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Volume 11, No. 1, Winter/Spring 1991 

, Creatine 

Governors State University, University Park, IL 60466 - 3193 

Published under the auspices of the provosts office, 
© 1991 governors state university and helen hughes 

ISSN 0736 - 4733 


Helen E. Hughes, Editor 

Suzanne Oliver, Art Director 

Barbara Conant, Library Resources 

Nirmala Cano, Subscriptions 

Lynne Hostetter, Word Processing 

Linda Kuester, Word Processing 

Lynn Ann Lindvig, Editorial Consultant 

Priscilla Rockwell, Editorial Consultant 

Emily Wasiolek, Editorial Consultant 

Theresa Rooney, Editorial Assistant 

Art Schmaltz, Guest Editor 

David R Matteson, Guest Editor 


Glenda Baily-Mershon, Illinois NOW/National Organization for Women, Oak Park, IL 

Donna Bandstra, Healthgroup International, Sherman Oaks, CA 

Margaret Brady, Social Sciences, Homewood, IL 

Rev. Ellen Dohner Livingston, Religion, Unitarian Society of Ponoma Valley, CA 

Rita Durrant, League of American Penwomen, Doylestown, PA 

Deborah Garretson, Counseling, Muncie, IN 

Temmie Gilbert, Theatre/ Media, Governors State University 

Linda Grace-Kobas, Journalism, University of Buffalo, NY 

Harriet Gross, Sociology/Women 's Studies, Governors State University 

Helene N. Guttman, Biological Sciences, Bethesda, MD 

Bethe Hagens, Anthropology, Governors State University 

Barbara Jenkins, Psychology, Governors State University 

Betye Saar, Fine Arts, Hollywood, CA 

Sara Shumer, Political Theory, Haverford College, PA 

Rev. Lynn Thomas Strauss, Religion,Women's Studies/Parenting, Oak Park, IL 


3 About our Guest Editors 

4 Introduction to Men and Birth Art Schmaltz and David Matteson 

5 Fatherhood and Social Change Ralph LaRossa 

10 The True Self, The False Self, and Male Sex Role Expectations Sally ]. Nador 

12 Pregnant Dreams: The Secret Life of the Expectant Father Alan B. Siegel 

18 Men Giving Birth Art Schmaltz and Waud Kracke 

20 "What Time Is It?" Marge Robinson 

21 Male Circumcision Art Schmaltz 

24 "Jason's Here" Sidney Miller 

25 Men and Birth: A Selective Bibliography Barbara Conant 

26 Mother Earth III: Artist's Statement Art Schmaltz 

27 Goddess Scultures (photographs by Richard Burd) Art Schmaltz 

29 Martin Lueders: The Ethics of Street Photography Paul Schranz 

30 Artist's Statement and Photograph Series Martin Lueders 

34 "The Difference Between Popular and Unpopular Photography" Jay Boersma 

36 "In the Men's House" Tom Seidner 

"My Osprey" Dave Matteson 

37 Prizewinners: Temmie Gilbert and Judy Panko Reis 

38 Announcements 

40 In Loving Memory: Elaine Garretson, Edith Perlmutter, Sonja Weil 

41 Exchange Ads 

42 Letters To The Editor George Feuerstein, Claudia Snow, and Wayne McKusick 

45 Uncommon Lives: Creative Women Celebrated at Rockford College Helen Hughes 

46 Editor's Column: We're Looking for a Few Good Men Helen Hughes 

The Creative Woman is published three times a year by Governors 
State University. We focus on a special topic in each issue, presented 
from a feminist perspective. We celebrate the creative achievements of 
women in many fields and appeal to inquiring minds. We publish 
fiction, poetry, book reviews, articles, photography and original graphics. 

Cover photograph: Incubation, 
poplar wood, 12" x 11", 1983, 
Art Schmaltz. 
Photo credit: Richard Burd. 


Art Schmaltz, M. A., is an instructor at Prairie 
State College, Chicago Heights, Illinois. Mr. 
Schmaltz' sculptural work is represented in 
private and public collections throughout the 
Midwest. He is also an environmental activist 
and heads the environment committee of the 
Unitarian Universalist Church of Park Forest, 
IL. He also chairs the Special Committee for 
Occupational Health, Transportation, Commu- 
nications International Union, Local 6560. Mr. 
Schmaltz is an active member of the Interna- 
tional Association for the Study of Dreams, 
and has led "experiential dream groups" for 
the past twenty years. He is also active in the 
BIRTH-WISE organization and is researching 
and writing on birthing and obstetric issues. 

Art Schmaltz and son, Wolfgang 

David R. Matteson is a founding member 
of both the National Organization of Men 
Against Sexism and the Campaign to End 
Homophobia. He teaches psychology and 
family counseling at Governors State 
University, and has a small private 
practice. He has authored a text and co- 
authored a major research volume on 
adolescent identity; he also does research 
in family dynamics, and in bisexual life- 
styles, and has been published in four 
languages. He and his wife have parented 
a boy and a girl, both now in college. As 
his fathering responsibilities diminish, he 
hopes to travel more and write more 
poems and creative essays. 

David Matteson 



Popular culture is often an indicator of new trends and struggles that are taking place in society. 
In the last few years the media have shown a renewed interest in portraying men as nurturing 
figures. Movies such as 'Three Men and a Baby," and most recently "Kindergarten Cop" have 
tried to capitalize upon men's nurturing and fathering issues. Is popular culture accurately 
portraying the struggle of men to re-define their roles in the birth and nurturing process? Men in 
our culture are now being offered a new male role model, a composite of The Terminator and Mr. 
Rogers! The media portrayal of macho heroes with some cute kids thrown into hackneyed 
scripts, or the well-worn portrayal of men with babies as "comic figures" detracts from the 
seriousness of men's efforts to create realistic roles for themselves. 

In an attempt to bring some seriousness to the debate surrounding men's roles in the birth and 
nurturing process we, as guest editors present this special issue of The Creative Woman. We 
have found that working within the framework of feminist philosophy is anything but constrain- 
ing when exploring men's issues. A feminist critique of history and culture is informative for 
men as well as women, and nowhere is this more true than with issues surrounding birth and 
nurturing. Women were the ones to do the serious groundwork around birthing and obstetrics. 
As a result, men began questioning their traditional place in the "father's waiting room." 

It has been our intent as editors to provide the reader with an interlocking structure and logic to 
the sequence of articles offered here. Taken as a whole, the articles explore certain aspects of the 
deep cultural matrix within which men's roles are embedded. The opening article by Ralph 
LaRossa reveals a contradiction in men's image and behavior around the nurturing process thus 
framing a dilemma for men. The new self that men imagine themselves to be is in a way "false." 

Sally Nader's article 'The True Self, The False Self and Male Sex Role Expectations" presents this 
dilemma for men in terms of a "true self /false self challenge." Nador's article provides the 
theoretical model of Donald Winnicott as a means of understanding an aspect of the problem 
raised by LaRossa. 

Alan Siegel provides empirical evidence and research that gives credence to the Winnicottian 
perspective. At one level men have internalized their culturally defined gender identity. Their 
image of masculinity minimizes the role of "expectant father." Dr. Siegel's analysis of the dream 
life of expectant fathers reveals another story: intense anxieties and suppressed emotions haunt 
men during these times. The dream process provides men with an awareness and the means of 
taking on the true self /false self challenge; at the same time our culture does not support or 
encourage men to incorporate their dream process into their self image. 

Religion and cultural mythology are powerful organizers of institutional and individual "reali- 
ties." The article "Men Giving Birth" by Waud Kracke and Art Schmaltz attempts to reveal some 
of the dynamics at work in our and other cultures. 

And finally, Art Schmaltz attempts to show how one cultural ritual, "male circumcision," im- 
pacts upon men, women, and society as a whole. The reader is left with the final challenge of 
creating healing instead of wounding rituals. 

A.S. & D.R.M. 


Ralph LaRossa 


Has fatherhood changed in the wake of the social and economic 
changes that have taken place in America since the turn of the 
century? Although the evidence is scant, it would appear that the 
answer is both yes and no. Yes, fatherhood has changed, if one looks 
at the culture of fatherhood — the ideologies surrounding men's 
parenting. No, fatherhood has not changed (at least significantly), if 
one looks at the conduct of fatherhood— how fathers behave vis-a-vis 
their children. The consequences of this asynchrony between the 
culture and the conduct of fatherhood are, as this article demon- 
strates, both positive and negative and need to be addressed by 
family researchers and practitioners alike. 

The consensus of opinion in American society is 
that something has happened to American fathers. 
Long considered minor players in the affairs of 
their children, today's fathers often are depicted as 
major parental figures, people who are expected 
to — people who presumably want to — be there 
when their kids need them. "Unlike their own 
father or grandfathers/' many are prone to say. 

But, despite all the attention that the so-called 
"new fathers" have been receiving lately, only a 
few scholars have systematically conceptualized 
the changing father hypothesis, and no one to date 
has marshalled the historical evidence needed to 
adequately test the hypothesis (Demos, 1982; 
Hanson & Bozett, 1985; Lamb, 1987; Lewis, 1986; 
Lewis & O'Brien, 1987; McKee & O'Brien, 1982; 
Pleck, 1987; Rotundo, 1985). 

Given that there is not much evidence to support 
the hypothesis, (a) how do we account for the fact 
that many, if not most, adults in America believe 
that fatherhood has changed, and (b) what are the 
consequences — for men, for women, for families — 
resulting from the apparent disparity between 
beliefs and actuality? The purpose of this article is 
to answer these two questions. 

The Asynchrony Between the Culture and 
Conduct of Fatherhood 

The institution of fatherhood includes two related 
but still distinct elements. There is the culture of 
fatherhood (specifically the shared norms, values, 
and beliefs surrounding men's parenting), and 
there is the conduct of fatherhood (what fathers 
do, their paternal behaviors). The distinction 

between culture and conduct is worth noting 
because although it is often assumed that the 
culture and conduct of a society are in sync, the 
fact is that many times the two are not synchro- 
nized at all. 

The distinction between culture and conduct is 
especially relevant when trying to assess whether 
fatherhood has changed because the available 
evidence on the history of fatherhood suggests 
that the culture of fatherhood has changed more 
rapidly than the conduct. For example, E. An- 
thony Rotundo (1985) argues that since 1970 a new 
style of American fatherhood has emerged, 
namely "Androgynous Fatherhood." In the an- 
drogynous scheme, 

A good father is an active participant in the details of 
day-to-day child care. He involves himself in a more 
expressive and intimate way with his children, and he 
plays a larger part in the socialization process that his 
male forebears had long since abandoned to their wives, 
(p. U) 

Rotundo (1985) is describing not what fathers 
lately have been doing but what some people 
would like fathers to begin doing. Later on he 
says that the new style is primarily a middle-class 
phenomenon and that "even within the upper- 
middle class... there are probably far more men 
who still practice the traditional style of fathering 
more than the new style." He also surmises that 
"there are more women who advocate 'Androgy- 
nous Fatherhood' than there are men who practice 
it" (p. 20). 

The culture of fatherhood changed primarily in 
response to the shifts in the conduct of mother- 
hood. In the wake of declines in the birth rate and 
increases in the percentage of mothers in the labor 
force, the culture of motherhood changed, such 
that it is now more socially acceptable for women 
to combine motherhood with employment outside 
the home (Margolis, 1984). The more it became 
apparent that today's mothers were less involved 
with their children, on a day-to-day basis, than 
were their own mothers or grandmothers, the 
more important it became to ask the question: 
Who's minding the kids? Not appreciating the 
extent to which substitute parents (day-care 
centers, etc.) have picked up the slack for mothers, 
many people (scholars as well as the lay public) 
assumed that fathers must be doing a whole lot 
more than before and changed their beliefs to 

conform to this assumption. In other words, 
mother-child interaction was erroneously used as 
a "template" to measure father-child interaction 
(Day & Mackey, 1986). 

The Conduct of Fatherhood Versus the Conduct 
of Motherhood 

Contending that the conduct of fatherhood has 
changed very little over the course of the 20th 
century flies in the face of what many of us see 
every day: dads pushing strollers, changing 
diapers, playing in the park with their kids. Also, 
what about the men who publicly proclaim that 
they have made a conscientious effort to be more 
involved with their children than their own 
fathers were with them? 

What cannot be forgotten is that appearances and 
proclamations (both to others and ourselves) can 
be deceiving; everything hinges on how we con- 
ceptualize and measure parental conduct. Michael 
Lamb (1987) notes that scholars generally have 
been ambiguous about what they mean by paren- 
tal "involvement," with the result that it is difficult 
to compare one study with the next, and he main- 
tains that if we ever hope to determine whether or 
not fathers have changed, we must arrive at a 
definition that is both conceptually clear and 
comprehensive. The definition which he thinks 
should be used is one that separates parental 
involvement into three components: engagement, 
accessibility, and responsibility. Engagement is 
time spent in one-on-one interaction with a child 
(whether feeding, helping with homework, or 
playing catch in the backyard). Accessibility is a 
less intense degree of interaction and is the kind of 
involvement whereby the parent is doing one 
thing (cooking, watching television) but is ready 
or available to do another (respond to the child, if 
the need arises). Responsibility has to do with who 
is accountable for the child's welfare and care. 
Responsibility includes things like making sure 
that the child has clothes to wear and keeping 
track of when the child has to go to the pediatri- 

Reviewing studies that allow comparisons to be 
made between contemporary fathers' involvement 
with children and contemporary mothers' involve- 
ment with children, Lamb (1987) estimates that in 
two-parent families in which mothers are unem- 
ployed, fathers spend about one fifth to one 
quarter as much time as mothers do in an engage- 

ment status and about a third as much time as 
mothers do just being accessible to their children. 
In two-parent families with employed mothers, 
fathers spend about 33% as much time as mothers 
do in an engagement status and 65% as much time 
being accessible. As far as responsibility is con- 
cerned, mothers appear to carry over 90% of the 
load, regardless of whether they are employed or 
not. Lamb also notes that observational and 
survey data indicate that the behavioral styles of 
fathers and mothers differ. Mother-child interac- 
tion is dominated by caretaking whereas father- 
child interaction is dominated by play. 

Mothers actually play with their children more than 
fathers do but, as a proportion of the total amount of 
child-parent interaction, play is a much more prominent 
component of father-child interaction, whereas 
caretaking is more salient with mothers. (Lamb, p. 10) 

In looking for trends, Lamb relies on one of the 
few studies which allows historical comparisons 
to be made — a 1975 national survey that was 
repeated in 1981 (Juster, 1985). No data apparently 
were collected on parents' accessibility or respon- 
sibility levels, but betweeen 1975 and 1981, among 
men and women aged 18 to 44, there was a 26% 
increase in fathers' engagement levels and a 7% 
increase in mothers'. Despite these shifts, paternal 
engagement was only about one third that of 
mothers, increasing from 29% in 1975 to 34% in 
1981 (Lamb, 1987). 

While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with 
talking about percentage changes, one should be 
careful about relying on them and them alone. If, 
for example, one examines the tables from which 
Lamb drew his conclusions (Juster, 1985), one 
finds that the number of hours per week that the 
fathers spent in child care was 2.29 hours in 1975, 
compared to 2.88 hours in 1981, which is an 
increase of about 35 minutes per week or 5 min- 
utes per day. The mothers in the sample, on the 
other hand, spent 7.96 hours per week in child 
care in 1975, compared to 8.54 hours per week in 
child care in 1981, which also is an increase of 
about 35 minutes per week or 5 minutes per day. 
Thus, in absolute terms, fathers and mothers 
increased their child care by the same amount. 

Bear in mind also that we are still talking about 
only one component of parental involvement, 
namely engagement. The two national surveys 
provide little, if any, information about changes in 

the accessibility and responsibility levels of fathers 
and mothers. Until we gather historical data 
which would allow us to compare all three com- 
ponents of fatherhood, we should temper our 
excitement about surveys which suggest changes 
in the conduct of fatherhood over time. 

What about the dads who are seen interacting 
with their kids in public (see Mackey & Day, 
1979)? A thoughtful answer to this question also 
must address how we conceptualize and measure 
paternal involvement. Does the paternal engage- 
ment level of fathers in public square with the 
paternal engagement level of fathers in private, or 
are we getting an inflated view of fatherhood from 
public displays? The fact that fathers can be seen 
in public with their children may not be as impor- 
tant as the question, How much time do fathers 
spend alone with their children? One recent study 
found that mothers of young children spent an 
average of 44.5 hours per week in total child- 
interaction time (which goes beyond engagement), 
while fathers spent an average of 29.48 hours per 
week, and 1.5 to 1 difference. If one looked, how- 
ever, at time spent alone with children, one dis- 
covered that 19.56 hours of mothers' child-interac- 
tion time, compared with 5.48 hours of fathers' 
child-interaction, was solo time, a 3.6 to 1 differ- 
ence. Moreover, while fathers' total interaction 
time was positively affected by the number of 
hours their wives worked, fathers' solo time was 
not affected at all (Barnett & Baruch, 1987). 

As for the public proclamations, almost all the 
books and articles which tout the arrival of "new" 
fatherhood are written not by a cross-section of the 
population but by upper-middle class profession- 
als. Kort and Friedland's (1986) edited book, for 
instance, has 57 men writing about their preg- 
nancy, birth, and child-rearing experiences. But, 
who are these men? For the most part, they are 
novelists, educators, sculptors, real estate inves- 
tors, radio commentators, newspaper editors, 
publishers, physicians, performers, psychologists, 
social workers, and attorneys. Not exactly a 
representative sample. As Rotundo (1985) notes, 
androgynous fatherhood as an ideal has caught 
the attention of the upper-middle class more than 
any other group, but even in this group, words 
seem to speak louder than actions. 

While the perception of fathers in public and the 
Kort and Friedland (1986) book may not accu- 
rately represent what fathers in general are doing, 

they can most certainly have an effect of what 
people think fathers are doing and should be 
doing. Which brings us back to the question, What 
are the consequences that have resulted from the 
apparent disparity between beliefs and actuality? 

The Consequences of Asynchronous Social 

The idea that fathers have radically changed — that 
they now are intimately involved in raising their 
children — is having an impact on our lives and 
that of our children. On the positive side, people 
are saying that at least we have made a start. Sure, 
men are not as involved with their children as 
some of us would like them to be, but, so the 
argument goes, the fact that we are talking about 
change represents a step in the right direction. But 
what about the negative side of the myth of the 
changing father? 

The Technically Present but Functionally Absent 

The distinction between engagement and accessi- 
bility outlined by Lamb (1987) is similar to the 
distinction between primary time and secondary 
time in our study of the transition to parenthood 
(LaRossa & La Rossa, 1981). The social organiza- 
tion of a family with children, especially young 
children, parallels the social organization of a 
hospital in that both are continuous coverage 
social systems (Zerubavel, 1979). Both are set up 
to provide direct care to someone (be it children or 
patients) on a round-the-clock or continuous basis. 
And both the family and the hospital, in order to 
give caregivers a break every now and then, will 
operate according to some formal or informal 
schedule such that some person or persons will be 
"primarily" involved with the children or patients 
(on duty) while others will be "secondarily" 
involved (on call or accessible). 

Like Lamb, we also found that the fathers' levels 
of engagement, accessibility, and responsibility 
were only a fraction of the mothers', and that 
fathers tended to spend a greater part of their care 
giving time playing with their children. Moreover, 
we found that the kinds of play that fathers were 
likely to be involved in were the kinds of activities 
that could be carried out at a secondary (semi- 
involved) level of attention, which is to say that it 
was not unusual for fathers to be primarily in- 
volved in watching television or doing household 
chores while only secondarily playing with their 


When asked why they wanted to be with their 
children, the fathers often would answer along the 
line that a father has to "put in some time with his 
kids" (LaRossa, 1983, p. 585). Like prisoners who 
"do time" in prison, many fathers see themselves 
as "doing time" with their children. If, on some 
level of consciousness, fathers have internalized 
the idea that they should be more involved with 
their children, but on another level of conscious- 
ness they do not find the idea all that attractive, 
one would expect the emergence of a hybrid style: 
the technically present but functionally absent 
father (cf. Feldman & Feldman, 1975, cited in Pleck, 

The technically present but functionally absent 
father manifests himself in a variety of ways. One 
father in our study prided himself on the fact that 
he and his wife cared for their new baby on an 
alternating basis, with him "covering" the morn- 
ings and his wife "covering" the afternoons. "We 
could change roles in a night," he said; "it 
wouldn't affect us." But when this father was 
asked to describe a typical morning spent alone 
with his infant son, he gave the distinct impression 
that he saw fatherhood as a job and that while he 
was "there" in body, he was someplace else in 

J have the baby to be in charge of, [which has] really been 
no problem for me at all. But that's because we worked 
out a schedule where he sleeps a pretty good amount of 
that time... I generally sort of have to be with him in the 
sense of paying attention to his crying or dirty diapers or 
something like that for anywhere between 30 to 45 
minutes, sometimes an hour, depending. But usually I 
can have two hours of my own to count on each morning 
to do my own work, so it's no problem. That's just the 
breaks that go with it. 

Marital Conflict in Childbearing and 
Child-Rearing Families 

Because our study was longitudinal, we were able 
to trace changes over time; and we found that from 
the third, to the sixth, to the ninth month postpar- 
tum, the couple became more traditional, with 
fathers doing proportionately less child care 
(LaRossa & La Rossa, 1981). It was this 
traditionalization process that provided us with a 
close-up view of what happens when the bubble 
bursts; that is, what happens when the romanti- 
cized vision of dad's involvement starts to break 

One father, first interviewed around the third 

month after his daughter's birth, wanted to com- 
municate that he was not going to be an absentee 
father like some of his friends were: 

I've got a good friend of mine, he's the ultimate male 
chauvinist pig. He will not change a diaper. ..[But] I 
share in changing the diapers, and rocking the baby, and 
in doing those kinds of things... I love babies. 

During the sixth month interview, however, it was 
revealed that he indeed had become very much 
the absentee father. In fact, almost every evening 
since the first interview he had left the house after 
dinner to play basketball, or participate in an 
amateur theater group, or sing in the local choir. 

One would expect more conflict in marriage today 
centered around the legitimacy of the division of 
child care than, say, 40 years ago because of the 
shift in the culture of fatherhood that has occurred 
during this time. Some may say, "Great, with 
more conflict there will be needed change." And 
their point is valid. But what must be kept in mind 
is that conflict also can escalate and destroy. Given 
that at least one recent study has reported that the 
most likely conflict to lead a couple to blows is 
conflict over children (Straus, Gelles, & Steinmetz, 
1980), family researchers and practitioners would 
be well advised to pay attention to the possibility 
that violence during the transition to parenthood 
may be one negative consequence of asynchro- 
nous social change. 

Fathers and Guilt 

Many men today experience ambivalence over 
their performance as fathers. To feel "ambivalent" 
about something is to feel alternately good and 
bad about it. The plethora of autobiographical 
books and articles written by fathers in the past 
few years conveys the impression that men do feel 
and, perhaps most importantly, should feel good 
about their performance as fathers. A lot of men 
do seem to be proud of their performance, what 
with all the references to "new" fatherhood and 
the like. At the same time, however, men are being 
almost constantly told — and can see for them- 
selves, if they look close enough — that their 
behavior does not square with the ideal, which 
means that they are being reminded on a regular 
basis that they are failing as fathers. Failing not 
when compared with their own fathers or grand- 
fathers perhaps, but failing when compared with 
the image of fatherhood which has become part of 
our culture and which they, on some level of 
consciousness, believe in. 

I would hypothesize that, given the asynchrony 
between the culture and conduct of fatherhood, the 
number of fathers who feel ambivalent and, to a 
certain extent, guilty about their performance as 
fathers has increased over the past three genera- 
tions. I would also hypothesize that, given it is the 
middle class which has been primarily responsible 
for the changes in the culture of fatherhood, it is the 
middle-class fathers who are likely to feel the most 
ambivalent and suffer the most guilt. 

Some may argue that the parental anxiety that men 
are beginning to experience is all for the better, that 
they now may start feeling bad enough about their 
performance to really change. This argument does 
have merit. Yes, one positive outcome of asynchro- 
nous social change is that ultimately men may 
become not only more involved with their children 
but also more sensitive to what it is like to be a 
mother. After all, for a long time women have 
worried about their performance as parents. It 
should not be forgotten, however, that the guilt 
which many women experience as mothers (and 
which has been the subject of numerous novels, 
plays, and films) has not always been healthy for 
mothers — or families. In sum, when it comes to 
parenthood, today it would appear that both men 
and women can be victims as well as benefactors of 
society's ideals. 


Fatherhood is different today than it was in prior 
times but, for the most part, the changes that have 
occurred are centered in the culture rather than in 
the conduct of fatherhood. Whatever changes have 
taken place in the behavior of fathers, on the basis 
of what we know now, seem to be minimal at best. 
More people need to be made aware of the fact that 
the division of child care in America has not signifi- 
cantly changed, that — despite the beliefs that 
fathers are a lot more involved with their chil- 
dren — mothers remain, far and away, the primary 
child caregivers. 

Ralph LaRossa ia an Associate Professor in the Department of 
Sociology, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30303. 

This article has been condensed from "Fatherhood and Social 
Change", Family Relations, October 1988, 37, 451457. 


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McKee, L., & O'Brien, M. (Eds.) (1982). The Father 
Figure. London: Tavistock. 

Pleck, J.H. (1987). American fathering in historical 
perspective. In M.S. Kimmel (Ed.) Changing Men: 
New Directions in Research on Men and Masculinity 
(pp. 83-97). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications. 

Rotundo, E.A. (1985). American fatherhood: A histor- 
ical perspective. American Behavioral Scientist, 
29, 7-25. 

Straus, M., Gelles, R.J., & Steinmetz, S.K. (1980). 
Behind Closed Doors: Violence in the American 
Family. New York: Anchor/Doubleday . 

Zerubavel, E. (1979). Patterns of Time in Hospital 
Life: A Sociological Perspective. Chicago: 
University of Chicago Press. 



D. W. Winnicott offered two very powerful con- 
cepts, the true self and the false self, to explain a 
paradox: as we strive to please others and become 
good at intuiting the needs of others, we put 
ourselves at risk for losing our own uniqueness 
and for failing to respond to our own creative 
impulses. The concepts of the true self and the 
false self draw attention to this dilemma and are 
particularly relevant vis-a-vis the role expectations 
for males in this society. 

Let me begin by defining the true self and the false 
self. Very simply, the true self embodies those 
activities and attributes that are playful, enjoyable 
and meaningful while the false self is that part of 
us that conforms to the requirements of others in 
order to fit in and get ahead. Life is, of course, an 
optimal mixture of the two; and problems arise 
when we strive to "fit in" at the expense of being 
able to be playful, original and funloving. 

While the development of a false self is, of course, 
a matter of degree, it is important to note that we 
are dealing with an insidious process in which the 

organizations and institutions to which we belong 
reward us handsomely for conforming to the 
needs of those organizations and institutions. We 
sometimes find ourselves, in contrast, in hot water 
if we swim against the current or operate as a 
maverick or as someone who follows one's own 

Given all of the above, I'd like to take this idea of 
the true/false self one step further by positing the 
following hypothesis: the demands of significant 
organizations and institutions (home, school, the 
work place, the "play" places [clubs, organiza- 
tions, etc.]) convey expectations vis-a-vis the male 
role that change with each stage of the human life 
cycle, creating a new and different challenge in 
terms of the true self /false self dilemma at each 
stage of the life cycle. 

We know, for example, that parents respond 
differently to male and female infants, supporting 
the notion that parents, indeed, have expectations 
for male infants that vary from the expectations 
for female infants. We know that teachers have 
differing expectations based on sex differentiation 
that, in turn, influence the development of social, 
emotional and even cognitive capacities in their 
students. Teachers, for example, generally expect 
girls to struggle with math while expecting boys to 
find math easier. Teachers also tolerate more 
aggressive behavior in boys while subtly — and not 
so subtly — reinforcing less aggressive behaviors in 


Battersea Park Boating Attendant, 

Martin Lueders, 1989. 


Clubs and extra-curricular activities for boys are 
subtly different than those for girls, emphasizing 
mastery of concrete and specific tasks over 
"softer" activities such as social service projects. In 
high school, those same clubs and organizations 
emphasize the physical dimension, the athletic 
prowess, of the male adolescent, rewarding those 
adolescents who lead the football team or win the 
state swim championship. 

We see the true/false dilemma evident in high 
school in those situations in which an adolescent 
boy must hide his academic brightness or place it 
carefully in the shadow of athletic accomplish- 
ments. We have deprecating names for those 
adolescents who somehow miss the message that 
there are norms vis-a-vis fitting in; and we, in 
turn, label those adolescents "nerds," "chess 
jocks," "egg heads," etc. 

In the workplace, men get ahead by conforming 
and by anticipating the boss's needs and meeting 
those needs. And in some work arenas, play and 
work become intertwined with certain "play" 
skills required to move ahead in the work organi- 
zation. When the President jogs or plays tennis, 
suddenly his cabinet must also jog or play tennis! 

Similarly, within the home environment, the 
"softer" man — the one who performs the tradi- 
tional "feminine" chores such as childcare activi- 
ties and housework — is deprecated and regarded, 
I think, with some suspicion. A wimp. A moma's 

As noted above, the true/false self dilemma is one 
of degree and balance, and the question for both 
men and women is, of course, how can we pre- 
serve that playful and creative part of ourselves 
while facilitating the goals and objectives of the 
social units to which we belong. The first part of 
this question is probably the harder part — at least 
from my vantage point. As Marion Milner asked, 
can we turn 'round fast enough to catch the 
playful moment before it eludes us? 
There was an essay in The New York Times some 
time ago by an author whose name I no longer 
remember. The author, a woman and a journalist, 
noted that she had always adhered to deadlines in 
college and in the workplace, producing articles in 
a timely fashion. A colleague of hers, on the other 
hand, was typically late with his work, never 
willing to hand it in if it hadn't quite jelled and 
always needing to get the complete story at the 

expense of missing deadlines. His transgressions 
for lateness were somehow overlooked or forgiven 
because the resulting story was usually quite 
good; and while this author was rewarded for her 
timeliness by a promotion to editor (where she 
now waits for others to meet the deadlines which 
she imposes), her colleague is still chasing exciting 
stories, following his own nose. He wasn't pro- 
moted, but he also has the more fulfiling job — 
from this author's perspective. 

One final point is this: the male individual with a 
healthy true self may, at times, seem somewhat 
out-of-step with his peers. As he follows his own 
nose, there may be some tension within the social 
units to which he belongs. While this seems 
obvious, it is important to stress that, in health, 
there can be some tension in social relationships. 
Those models of mental health that strive to make 
social relationships as conflict-free as possible 
need to find a place for the notion of a true self 
and the resulting tension that might follow as that 
true self strives for expression. 

In summary, Winnicott's concepts of the true self 
and the false self suggest a need for an appropriate 
mix of the two. There is an insidious danger of a 
false self that becomes so predominant that there 
is little room for expression of the true self. Addi- 
tionally, each stage of the life cycle presents its 
own particular version of true/ false self chal- 
lenges; and those true/false self dilemmas get 
played out differently for men and women. Fi- 
nally, in health we often experience tension in 
social relationships and within social units as each 
of us has moments when we march to our own 
drummer. We need a model of mental health that 
allows for a concept like the true self, with its 
resultant moments of discord in human relation- 
ships; and we need a model of mental health that 
recognizes the dangers of an overdeveloped false 

Or. Nador is a psychotherapist in private practice in 
Evanston, Illinois. Her Psy.D. degree is from the Illinois 
School of Professional Psychology. 

Milner, Marion. (1987) On not being able to paint. London: 

Winnicott, D. W. (1965). The maturatioml processes and the 
facilitating environment. New York: International Universities 
Press, Inc. 


Alan B. Siegel 

On the night after his wife's pregnancy was 
confirmed, David, a 35 year old environmental 
planner, had a vivid dream. He dreamed that he 
came upon a pair of radioactive glasses that were 
not supposed to be touched. Nevertheless, he felt 
compelled to look through them and when he did, 
he felt like he was looking through the eyes of 
what seemed to be another "being." As he gazed 
through the eyes, he felt as if he were floating in 
an outer space environment. 

David, like most expectant fathers, was deeply 
moved by the news of his wife's pregnancy. At 
first, David had no idea what the dream symbol- 
ized; he suspected only that it might be related to 
the news of the pregnancy. As he shared the 
dream with me and we explored the images and 
feelings that emerged, David suddenly realized 
that in his dream, he was seeing the world 
through the eyes of his unborn child. 

During the first trimester of pregnancy, many 
expectant fathers have dreams that appear to 
portray the experience of the fetus in the womb. 
Underwater dreams of old-fashioned scuba divers 
with umbilical cord-like hoses attached to them 
are not uncommon. These early pregnancy dreams 
strongly suggest that a man's unconscious identifi- 
cation with his child and his conscious feelings of 
empathy for his child, powerfully affect his experi- 
ence of involvement in the pregnancy. 

The pregnancy of the expectant father is a psycho- 
logical one. Beginning with the confirmation of the 
pregnancy, his inner life becomes fertile. As the 
pregnancy progresses, his dream images chronicle 
the growth of an inner attachment to his child, 
changes in his marital relationship and the gesta- 
tion and birth of a new identity as a father. 

Long before men are consciously aware of how 
deeply affected they are by their wives' preg- 
nancy, their dreams are portraying powerful 
responses to becoming a father. In this article I will 
examine how recurring dream themes suggest a 

universal dimension to the inner changes that men 
undergo during pregnancy. Greater awareness of 
the expectant father's hitherto "secret" emotional 
conflicts and changes can help men feel more 
included and more secure about the importance of 
their role in pregnancy and parenting and to forge 
a closer alliance with their wife and child. 

Men's involvement in the birth process has in- 
creased dramatically in little more than two 
decades. In 1970, a Texas man who had been 
excluded from the birth of his first two children 
handcuffed himself to his wife to ensure that he 
would not be barred from the birth of their third 
child. By the early 1970s, the ban on fathers being 
present at birth was changing and 27% of fathers 
were attending the birth of their children. In July 
1983, a Gallup Poll indicated that 79% of men were 
present at the birth of their children. By 1990, over 
90% of fathers were attending the birth of their 
child in hospitals in the San Francisco Bay Area. 
Suddenly, the doors to the delivery room have 
been opened up to fathers. 

Unfortunately, appreciation and support for the 
unique emotional needs of the expectant father 
has not paralleled the increase in father involve- 


ment in labor and delivery. We are so dazzled by 
the technological advances in diagnosing and 
monitoring pregnancy risks (such as amniocente- 
sis, chorionic villae sampling and ultrasound 
monitoring) that we have forgotten to pay ad- 
equate attention to the psychological aspects of 

With the breakdown of the crucial emotional 
support of the extended family and the need and 
desire of women to return to work relatively soon 
after the birth of a child, the role of the father must 
become something more than that of an emotion- 
ally distant breadwinner. In order to become more 
nurturing and involved with their partners and 
their children, men need education and emotional 
support for taking on more fathering roles. Preg- 
nancy is a critical period for men to increase their 
psychological attachment to their unborn child. 
Yet, there is a conspiracy of silence against affirm- 
ing and supporting the emotional stages of becom- 
ing a father. 

Due to the lack of thorough studies of the psycho- 
logical stages of becoming a father, I conducted 
the first systematic study of expectant fathers' 
dreams in 1981-82. 1 have continued to collect 
dreams from expectant fathers and mothers since 
that time through my work as a clinical psycholo- 
gist and through my research for my book Dreams 
that Can Change Your Life: Navigating Life Passages 
Through Turning Point Dreams (Los Angeles: 
Jeremy Tarcher Inc., 1991). 

In my initial research, I collected two-week dream 
journals from 33 first-time expectant fathers; one- 
half were in the first two trimesters of pregnancy 
and the other half were in the final trimester. The 
dreams of the expectant fathers were compared to 
the dreams of a matched control group of men 
who were not fathers and were not considering 
parenthood. A formal dream content analysis was 
used that was based upon the method developed 
by Calvin Hall and Robert Van de Castle. 

There were many highly significant differences 
between the dreams of the expectant fathers and 
the non-fathers. The expectant fathers' dreams 
were replete with vivid imagery of fertility, preg- 
nancy, birth, and babies as well as with many 
graphic sexual and homosexual encounters and 
dreams of wild celebratory birthday parties. Their 
dreams were also filled with references to feeling 
left out and rejected, suggesting a sense of not 
feeling included in the pregnancy experience. ] 

When compared with men whose wives were 
close to delivery, the dreams of men whose wives 
were in the first half of pregnancy had signifi- 
cantly more sexual themes, as well as more macho 
characters and behaviors and more cars and 
vehicles. This demonstrated that men's uncon- 
scious responses to pregnancy are activated early 
in the pregnancy, when they are not consciously 
aware that they have been impacted. 


Men's dream themes ran an evolutionary course 
as the stages of pregnancy progressed. Whereas 
early pregnancy dreams featured images of the 
fetus floating in womb-like environments, late 
pregnancy dreams depicted a preoccupation with 
the birth process and with the experience of the 
birthing child. 

Late in pregnancy, one man dreamed that while 
he was fishing, a large bubble emerged from 
underwater and out of it popped a furry animal 
that had lived underwater for a long time. An- 
other third-trimester pregnant father dreamed that 
he escaped from a cave through a hole that 
opened up during an earthquake. A third man 
dreamed late in pregnancy that he was swimming 
downhill, leading a race that was coached by his 
Lamaze teacher. He won the race and emerged 
into a locker room, where he was wrapped in a 
towel. Despite the transparent symbolism of the 
fetus traveling down the birth canal and emerging 
at birth, none of these three men spontaneously 
linked their dream to pregnancy or birth. They 
were all surprised and delighted when I suggested 
the possible connection of the dreams to the birth 
process and to their emotional involvement with 
the pregnancy and their child. 


Sexual dreams are extremely common throughout 
pregnancy but especially so early in the preg- 
nancy. Many sex dreams portrayed men feeling 
rejected or inhibited sexually. Other dreams 
portrayed exotic liaisons or homosexual fears or 

One expectant father, Frank, had erotic dreams 
that portrayed adulterous desires. 


The Alarm in My Wedding Ring 

I am being approached by a voluptuous Black 
woman. I can tell she wants to seduce me and I am 
very tempted. All of a sudden, I know lam in 
trouble. An alarm goes off and I think it's my 
watch, but when I look I realize the alarm is on my 
wedding ring and I have to get home to my wife. 

When Frank's wedding ring alarm goes off, he is 
torn between sexual desires and his loyalty to his 
wife. For weeks he had been preoccupied with his 
own sexual fantasies and physical symptoms set 
off by the pregnancy. At the same time, he was 
anxious about his increased responsibililies as a 
nurturer and provider for his wife and child. 

Frank's Sexual Adventure Dreams did not inspire 
him to pursue extramarital sex. Rather Frank felt 
that his sexual dreams were related to a feeling of 
sexual neediness on his part. He recognized that in 
the past an increase in sexual fantasies had related 
to a need to be taken care of and given attention. 
He felt that his wife had been preoccupied with 
other aspects of the pregnancy and had rejected 
him sexually during the first trimester when they 
had both been feeling ill. 

Frank came to see that the alarm was meant to 
wake him out of his own neediness, his physical 
and sexual preoccupations, and to focus on im- 
proving his marriage so that they could be pre- 
pared for the arrival of the baby. When he shared 
his dreams and fantasies with his wife, she was 
able to understand what he'd been going through 
and they were able to re-establish a greater feeling 
of closeness that they had both been missing. 

Sexual dreams reflect men's responses to the 
changing patterns of sexual expression during 
pregnancy. Despite the so-called sexual revolu- 
tion, men and women still have difficulty in 
openly discussing important changes in their 
sexual relationship. Encouranging men and 
couples to understand their sex dreams during 
pregnancy will help to prevent feelings of rejection 
and alienation that often develop. It is important 
for channels of communication and intimate 
expression to remain open, even if lovemaking 
decreases at certain stages of pregnancy. 


Studies of physical and psychological symptoms 

that men experience during pregnancy have 
shown that many men experience what is known 
as the Couvade Syndrome, which mimics preg- 
nancy. Studies by Jacqueline Clinton, a professor 
of nursing at the University of Wisconsin, have 
shown that over 90% of expectant fathers experi- 
ence one or more Couvade symptoms, such as 
weight gain, nausea, stomach bloating, food 
cravings, fatigue, and irritability. 2 

More pronounced cases with multiple symptoms 
may occur in approximately 10-30% of expectant 
fathers. These symptoms are considered to be 
characteristic of the pregnant female, yet some 
men have more of them than their wives. 

Anthropologists who study primitive cultures 
have found widespread evidence of Couvade 
rituals, which engage expectant fathers in elabo- 
rate dietary and behavioral practices that mimic 
aspects of pregnancy. In some cases, the men 
would actually go into huts and simulate the pain 
of labor. These rituals are thought to be a form of 
sympathetic magic — a way of distracting and 
fooling any evil spirits and thus protecting the 
wife. In addition, Couvade rituals establish that 
the man is indeed the father and give him an 
important role to play in the pregnancy and birth. 

In our culture, we have few roles or rites of pas- 
sage to help men understand and integrate the 
experience of becoming a father. Without 
Couvade rituals, it appears that men's unfulfilled 
wishes for involvement are converted into an 
unconscious male version of pregnancy. 

Some men dream that they are actually pregnant 
or giving birth. Alex, a 33-year-old engineer, felt 
he was having difficulty accepting the reality of 
the pregnancy. Even after the baby began to move, 
he did not feel like the pregnancy had made much 
of an impact on him. Late in the second trimester 
he dreamed: 

It's My Baby 

lam standing on a street corner carrying my baby 
fetus under my shirt against my chest. I have my 
hands cupped over the fetus to protect it. It is 
moving and people ask what it is. I say it's my 
baby! Someone tries to smash the fetus by hitting 
my chest. I become enraged at the person and pick 
him up and throw him into the street. 


The powerful feeling of protectiveness in this 
dream occurs in many expectant fathers' dreams. 
Alex is not only pregnant out in public, he is ready 
to fiercely defend his baby against threats. Alex 
did not ordinarily remember his dreams. He was 
surprised by the intensity of his protective feelings 
and by the fact that he was pregnant in the dream. 
After exploring his feelings, Alex realized that he 
may have been denying some of his reactions to 
the pregnancy because he felt that he should be 
the strong one to help out with his wife while she 
was nauseous. 

When a man's protective fantasies are acknowl- 
edged, he is likely to feel gratified by becoming 
consciously aware of his protective instincts and 
may be more inclined to express his involvement 
through more active conscious involvement with 
his wife and child. 


One of the most common issues in expectant 
fathers' dreams are themes of feeling left out, 
misunderstood, deprived, or threatened in other 
ways. These dreams reveal old wounds and 
sensitivities to rejection that are reopened by fears 
about being displaced by the arrival of the baby. 

Joel had increased his hours at work to try to make 
more money to pay for the expenses of his child. 
When Joel's wife was five months pregnant, he 
had a troubling dream which took place during a 
baseball game at Candlestick Park in San Fran- 

Ban ished To The Back of the Stadium 

In the middle of the game, 1 get up to get some beer. 
When I return, I can't find my seat. I look around 
for a new one, but many of the women in the stands 
are pregnant, and they are taking up two seats. I 
have to go to the back of the stadium and stand. I 
am very annoyed. 

Joel was upset and puzzled by this dream. He 
wasn't much of a sports fan, and he generally 
avoided beer and alcohol because his father had a 
drinking problem. 

"The feeling I have in this dream is that of being 
left out. There is no room for me with all these 
huge pregnant women." 

Joel was able to laugh at the absurdity of a sta- 
dium full of pregnant women crowding him out 
Even in the generally male domain of beer and 
baseball, he felt like an outcast, rejected and forced 
to the back of the stadium. Exploring this dream 
helped Joel to understand that he was having a 
strong emotional reaction to his wife's pregnancy. 
Despite Joel's positive conscious reaction to 
becoming a father, he was feeling excluded by his 
wife, which is a painful phase of pregnancy that 
many men suffer through. The message of the 
dream was not about baseball; it was about Joel's 
sense of exclusion and his need to find more ways 
to be involved in the pregnancy and planning for 
the baby. 

After discussing the dream, Joel was able to 
express his left-out feelings more directly with his 
wife. They decided that he would cut back on 
some of the overtime hours at work so that he 
could spend more time with her and be more 
involved in preparations for the baby's arrival. 


One of the most common dreams for both expect- 
ant fathers and mothers is what I called Endan- 
gered Baby dreams. Even if you don't consider 
yourself superstitious, having a dream about a 
deformed or injured baby is likely to induce a 
feeling of worry or panic. Although these dreams 
are quite common and usually not a danger sign, 
nightmares about endangered babies can leave an 
emotional residue of anxiety and even depression. 

Joel, whose "left out" dream we discussed above, 
had listened to his wife talk about her fears of 
giving birth to a Down Syndrome child. Joel was 
sympathetic but didn't pay much attention. He 
figures that at thirty-one, she wasn't really at risk 
according to the statistics he had read. Early in the 
second trimester of his wife's pregnancy , Joel had 
the following dream: 

T)\e Clinic for Retarded Children 

I am in a medical clinic where everyone speaks 
Spanish. I am on a lengthy tour of the place and am 
being shown new techniques to deal with mentally 
retarded children. I am saddened but very relieved 
that our own baby, who is now a year old, was born 
normal. I want to get out of the place, but the 
director drones on and on and I don't want to 
offend him. 


Joe's dream helped him to accept the fact that he, 
too, was fearful about something being wrong 
with the baby. Although Joel's Deformed Baby 
dream appears to be reassuring him that his baby 
will be normal, it also clearly shows his anxiety. 

As in many pregnancy dreams of both men and 
women, Joe's baby is not a newborn. Seeing your 
child as a few months or even a few years old in 
pregnancy dreams is usually associated with an 
attempt to skip the anxiety associated with the 
danger of labor, as well as the fears about adjust- 
ing to the early weeks of parenting a newborn. 

Joel was perplexed about why everyone was 
speaking Spanish. He realized it had something to 
do with the way he felt about pregnancy. He felt 
out of place when he and his wife took a tour of 
the maternity ward and when they went to the 
obstetrician's office. He felt as if he were an out- 
sider in a foreign country. 

Joel felt that this dream helped him to acknowl- 
edge his fears and his feeling of being an outsider. 
By being consciously aware of these issues, Joel 
became more assertive about being involved as the 
pregnancy progressed. He insisted on going to all 
of the doctor visits. He went to the classes at the 
hospital, and he talked more to other friends who 
were fathers. 

Paying careful attention to dreams with deformed 
or endangered babies can help both expectant 
fathers and mothers to identify fears that are 
difficult to admit consciously. It can be deeply 
reassuring to know that the fears and nightmares 
that afflict us are part of a normal process of 
psychological preparation for parenthood. 


A dramatic feature of expectant fathers' dreams 
throughout pregnancy is the appearance of par- 
ties, celebrations, and what appear to be initiation 
ceremonies related to pregnancy and childbirth. 
Over half the expectant fathers in my study had a 
Party and Celebration dream (as compared with 
only one incidence of this kind of dream in my 
comparison group). These were slightly more 
common, earlier in the pregnancy. 

An especially notable feature of Party and Cel- 
ebration dreams is that many of them feature 
birthday parties. These dreams also depicted 
elaborate food preparation, eating and drinking, 
water imagery and relationships with masculine 

or macho figures. Some of these dreams were 
associated with the completion of a creative 
project, such as a man who dreamed about a big 
party to celebrate a writing project that he had just 

One man dreamed about a big circle dance in a 
Chinese restaurant which suddenly switched to a 
hospital labor room. Another man, Gavin, had a 
dream which had the quality of a ritual designed 
to initiate him into the role of fatherhood. 

Birth Dance 

I am watching people all around me dance and play. 
I am not seen or heard. A group comes near me and 
all play ceases. This group seems to have control 
over all. I like them. Their energy is high and has a 
calming effect of me. They come to me, surround 
me. One of them comes over to me and gives me a 
bundle. It is a baby. 

At first, Gavin felt left out. The part of the dream 
when he was not seen or heard made him remem- 
ber painful feelings of exclusion that he had felt 
earlier in the pregnancy. In addition, it made him 
recall other times in his life when he had felt 
excluded from groups or other relationships. 

Gavin was the middle child in a family of ten. As 
he explored the dream, he wondered if it related 
in some way to memories of the birth of his four 
younger siblings. For Gavin, this dream may be an 
example of an early childhood birth fantasy. If this 
were true, the dream would represent an attempt 
to understand and identify with the experience of 
childbirth, while at the same time working out 
early memories of being confused and displaced 
by the arrival of new siblings. 

At the end of the dream, Gavin is surrounded in 
womb-like fashion and given a baby. He felt that 
this part of the dream was telling him that he had 
worked out earlier feelings of alienation from his 
wife and the pregnancy. At this point, he was 
feeling extremely excited and ready to take on the 
role of father. 

The lack of adequate roles and rituals to confirm 
their inclusion and importance causes expectant 
fathers to feel anxious about where they fit in. 
Parties are associated with important turning 
points such as birthdays, graduations, weddings, 
and accomplishments. They usually involve a 


sense of specialness or sacredness apart from 
mundane routines. The preponderance of Party 
and Celebration dreams reflect an unconscious 
awareness of the specialness and importance of 
becoming a father. In their Party and Celebration 
dreams, most men create unconscious rites of 
passage to express the excitement of becoming a 

Awareness of dreams can help men to convert 
their unconscious emotional reactions and fears of 
being excluded into an energetic involvement with 
the events of the pregnancy and the preparations 
for nurturing the baby. It is especially important 
that men be encouraged to participate in prenatal 
classes, obstetric visits, genetic counseling and 
amniocentesis, shopping for the baby's needs, 
even coed baby showers and other celebratory 

In addition, health and mental health profession- 
als need education regarding the important psy- 
chological development that expectant fathers 
undergo. Knowledge about dreams, fantasies and 
the intense emotions experienced by expectant 
fathers will help to impress upon health profes- 
sionals the need for providing relevant prenatal 
educational, psychological and medical services 
for fathers and couples. 

Dream sharing in prenatal support groups for men 
and/or couples or individual dream discussion in 
counseling sessions or prenatal medical visits 
could provide a useful adjunct to existing inter- 
ventions. Dream discussions can help to increase 
rapport with expectant fathers, increase their 
awareness of involvement in the pregnancy and 
alert health professionals to pressing emotional 
issues and conflicts for the expectant father and 
for the couple. 

Encouraging expectant fathers to remember and 
creatively explore the images in their dreams will 
help them to break the cultural taboo against 
knowing their feelings. The graphic images in 
expectant fathers' dreams such as being pregnant 
themselves, undergoing a birth experience, feeling 
excluded by wife and child and celebrating birth- 
day parties, provide convincing evidence to the 
fathers that they have a profound involvement in 
the pregnancy. 

An invisible drama unfolds in the dreams of 
expectant fathers. When we make this drama 

visible, by remembering and sharing dreams 
together, we can help men enhance their psycho- 
logical readiness for fatherhood and strengthen 
their emotional attachment to their wife and 

Dr. Siegel is a licensed psychologist with a clinical practice in 
Berkeley, California. His book Dreams That Change Your Life: 
Navigating Life Passages Through Turning Point Dreams (Los 
Angeles: Jeremy Tarcher, Inc., 1991 ), features chapters on the 
dreams of expectant fathers and mothers as well as dreams at 
other key transitions including marriage, separation, career 
change, illness, trauma, grief and approaching death. 

(1) Alan Siegel. Pregnant Dreams: Developmental Processes in 
the Manifest Dreams of Expectant Fathers. (Ann Arbor: Univer- 
sity of Microfilm International, 1983) 

(2) Jacqueline Clinton. "Expectant Fathers At Risk for 
Couvade." Nursing Research. (Volume 35, Number 5, 
September/October 1986), pages 290-295. 




2423 18th St NW, 

Washington DC 20009 

[202] 234-8072 


Art Schmaltz & Waud Kracke 

For a number of years Waud Kracke has been 
doing anthropological research with the 
Parintintin Indians, a Kagwahiv speaking people 
who live on the east bank of the Madeira River, a 
southern tributary of the Amazon. In the course of 
doing field research, the myth of men giving birth 
was related to professor Kracke: "It was first 
related to me by Catarina, the wife of the old chief 
Paulmo who told me a lot of the myths I have 
recorded. When I asked Paulino himself to narrate 
it, he appeared embarrassed, and told me an 
extremely short version, but finally I obtained the 
essential theme of the myth as follows: "In ances- 
tral times it was the men who gave birth to chil- 
dren, but Bahira - a creative deity and jokester - 
taking note of certain anatomical problems which 
arise, turned the birthing of children over to 

This myth of men giving birth appears simple in 
structure, however it is rich in interpretive impli- 
cations. One can utilize two basic approaches at 
understanding the myth of men giving birth. This 
myth can be understood as a symbolic or narrative 
expression of the internal dynamics of a specific 
culture, in this case the Parintintin. For example, 
one could explore the way this myth prescribes 
gender relationships, orders social rules and 
statuses, subtends institutional structures in 
Parintintin society. The myth of men giving birth 
can also be explored from a cross-cultural or 
human universal perspective. In this paper we 
will choose the latter and leave the issue of 
Parintintin specific understanding of this myth for 
another time. 

In approaching the story of men giving birth, the 
perspective will be used that has been employed 
in Waud Kracke's previous papers, on "Parintintin 
Mourning". Anthropologists may legitimately ask 
"to what extent are the configurations of emo- 
tional experience that we consider essentially 
human indeed constant across humankind?" 
(Kracke 1981, 1988.) 

It appears that men in every culture have to 
psychologically accommodate the fundamental 
reality that women birth children. This basic 
asymmetry can be psychologically counterbal- 

anced by constructing alternate realities or sym- 
bolic constructs utilizing myth and religion as a 
vehicle for achieving these ends. When men have 
considerable political and religious authority the 
myth of men giving birth,and its variations, often 
take on the status of official truth. Hindus, for 
example, have a variant of this myth whereby 
women achieve final salvation only through being 
reborn as male. 

As we shall see, the myth of men giving birth 
recurs with enough frequency across cultures and 
across time to suggest that a universal drama may 
be concretized in this particular story. In the 
emotional life of humankind, specifically the 
human male's emotional development, there may 
be a psychological need for this fantasy of men 
giving birth. Myths of the omnipotence surround- 
ing male masturbation are common. From the 
Pyramid Texts we learn that the ancient Egyptian 
priests present the myth of the male god Atum 
who began the work of natural creation. The myth 
relates how the male deity accomplishes procre- 
ation through masturbation which thus birthed 
Tefnut and Shu. 

In the natural history of life on this planet, 
nature's invention of the male sex was a late 
experiment. And this awareness of the primacy of 
the female's procreative potential also finds 
expression in the myths and rituals in many 
cultures. The ethnographic literature is rich in 
accounts of how males attempt to emulate, 
through ritual, aspects of female reproductive 
reality. In some societies the male circumcision 
ritual is aimed at reproducing the image of the 
menstruating woman - bleeding from the genitals. 
Female physiology can be seen as the prototypical 
core that spawns a variety of rituals. 

Bruno Bettelheim in his book Symbolic Wounds 
deals with the roles these symbols play in our 
psychic and social lives. He describes the play 
behavior of boys in our culture in which he ob- 
served boys cutting themselves as part of a game. 
These were boys approaching adolescence or were 
beginning adolescence. These young males spon- 
taneously created a ritual game in which they 
created an initiation or rite of passage. The boys 
were using the rite of bloodletting as the central 
event in their invented ritual. Indeed, adolescent 
male rites of passage, world wide, utilize real or 
symbolic blood as a central image. 


Girls have a clear indication of a passage to sexual 
maturity at menarchy. Cultures often invent a 
male rite of passage utilizing symbols to duplicate 
a similar image. Blood letting is important in so 
many male initiation rites across a diverse field of 
cultures that we can suggest that female reproduc- 
tive processes serve an essential element in the 
generation of these rites. Generally these blood 
letting rituals define a male as having become an 
adult by using the female as the prototype. 
Freud's notion of penis envy can be stood on its 
head. Womb envy or the longing by males to 
reduplicate through ritual the sexual and procre- 
ative powers of women seems to recur as we 
examine the ethnographic literature. 

In Freud's classic case study, Little Hans, there was 
something Freud apparently didn't see. Waud 
Kracke offers the study of Little Hans in many of 
his anthropology classes as he has become increas- 
ingly aware that there was something, 
perhaps,universal, going on in the dynamics of 
Hans' phobias - especially his fear of horses — 
which generalized to agoraphobia. The phobia 
started shortly after his little sister was born. At 
this point Hans began to show a certain obsessive- 
ness with nurturing behaviors — with taking care 
of little children. He talked possessively of "my 
little children." 

Hans would ponder what makes a child your 
child. He would play at being a parent, speaking 
of younger playmates as "my children." At the 
time of his little sister's birth he noticed blood in 
his mother's bedpan. He comments "blood 
doesn't come out of my penis." Hans had a little 
doll and he would drop a knife through the legs to 
recreate the process of birth. 

With Little Hans we can see in the creation of his 
symptoms and in his anxieties how certain life 
events become problematic and unresolved. 
Around the time of his sister's birth his mother 
caught him masturbating. Hans was admonished 
with the common threat "If you don't stop that I'll 
have the doctor come and cut it off." At first he 
didn't take it seriously; his response at first was, 
'Then I'll widdle with my bottom." But then came 
his sister's birth, and the observation of blood in 
the bedpan. Some time later he had a 
tonsilectomy, where the doctor did indeed come 
and remove a part of his body. It was after this 
operation that his phobia set in in earnest. So 
there were three events of which the childbirth 

was the central event along with the images of 
bloodletting that triggered the symptom forma- 
tion. The creation of this fantasy structure or 
personal myth began to organize Hans' emotional 
and thought process. 

Hans' interest in the differences between men and 
women led him to theorize that at some time both 
sexes have penises - and he must have pondered 
"when do women lose their penises?" He believes 
that childbirth is somehow implicated in the loss 
of the penis and that what creates the woman is 
childbirth. Childbirth has tremendous power, it is 
very desirable, but at the same time you have to 
trade something for it, You have to lose some- 
thing for it, so he imagined. Freud's case history 
of Little Hans may reveal something more than an 
individual boy's symptom formation. All little 
boys must, as part of their emotional develop- 
ment, create a fantasy or a mythology about the 
birthing process. The case history of Little Hans 
may be intriguing because it may hint at a general 
developmental model of the mind whereby the 
male child, even at an early age, must maintain 
some narcissistic balance, a psychological compen- 
sation of creating powerful myths and fantasies to 
counter the mystery and power of the female 
birthing process. 

When males have the political and social power to 
control social and religious institutions these 
intrapsychic fantasies often become concretized 
into established religious structure and ritual. In 
medieval Europe before the advent of genetic 
inheritance was understood, Christian scholars 
and theologians often depicted the mystery of 
procreation in drawings. Human conception was 
depicted in a male-centric fashion. The male 
ejaculate was fantasied as containing minute but 
fully formed human phenotypes. And using the 
agriculture model, the woman was just the soil in 
which the male "seed" was planted. One may 
wonder if residuals of this once common belief are 
present today among fundamentalist religious 
believers who seem to hold to a peculiar image of 
biologicial conception: A fully developed human 
morphology is imagined to be present at concep- 

Men giving birth is given its most powerful 
expression in Genesis in the Old Testament. The 
myth of Adam's rib is adequate testament to show 
that the image of "men giving birth" is still a vital 
and powerful myth in contemporary Western 


cultures. In this story the male, Adam, was the 
first human. In an approximation of man giving 
birth, his rib was the symbolic fetus that resulted 
in the procreation of Eve. 

In this story God places Adam in a "deep sleep" 
before extracting the necessary procreative tissue 
in the form of a rib. (One might note that in this 
birthing, the male was spared the pain, intensity, 
and physical effort of the labor process that 
women experience.) 

Dominant cultural myths, such as Adam's rib, 
have ways of expressing themselves in varied and 
complex ways in a society. One can speculate how 
the story of Adam's rib manifests itself in our 
culture. For the male the allure and power of men 
giving birth in the Bible might well carry over into 
obstetric practices in this and in other Western 

The systematic elimination of midwifery and the 
historical struggle of men to dominate obstetrics is 
certainly well documented. Within this male- 
dominated obstetric system one can view some 
less than scientific peculiarities. The notion of men 
controlling and giving birth (albeit in fantasy) may 
have some power to explain some of the "blood- 
letting" that goes on in the field of obstetrics. 
Many birthing interventions seem to have little 
medical justification. Although declining in prac- 
tice, the pattern of sedating and "putting to sleep" 
the mother during birthing was a common prac- 
tice with little medical justification, but appears to 
recapitulate the Genesis story. The 90% 
episiotomy rate, and the 25% cesarean section rate 
(some male obstetricians having a 50% cesarean 
section rate) has little medical justification, but 
does appear to be a powerful mythic re-enact- 
ment. The Father-God-Doctor renders the woman 
unconscious - makes the surgical wound and he 
"takes" the baby. 

As it is with the Hindu myth that final salvation is 
male-centric, there is in our culture a major 
mythological compensation to counter the actual 
reality that women birth children. The central 
religious event among evangelical Christians 
centers on the "born again" image. Being born 
again takes on a completely masculine image. One 
is born again, only this time not born of woman, 
but a rebirthing and reparenting out of the male 
matrix. The myth of men giving birth is achieved 
through the dual masculine icons, Jesus Christ and 
God the Father: "No one can come to the Father 

except through me." 

To conclude: The widespread occurrence of the 
myth of men giving birth gives us an indication 
that the issue of the birthing of children is not an 
insignificant issue for men. It appears that men in 
all societies strive to psychologically accommodate 
through myth and ritual the mystery of birth. 
From the fantasy life of Little Hans to the myth of 
the Parintintin, to the male striving for control of 
the birthing process in modern obstetrics, birth is 
an issue for men. But men do not birth children, 
and it seems that Freud's insight is correct: the 
wishful nature of the primary process will create 
in fantasy the desired but missing reality. 

Waud H. Kracke is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the 
University of Illinois in Chicago. 


Bettelheim, Bruno. 1962. Symbolic Wounds: Puberty Rites a 
The Envious Male. New York: Collier. 

Kracke, Waud H. 1988. "Kagwahiv Mourning II: Ghosts, 
Grief, and Reminiscences", Ethos 16(2): 209-222. 


It's half past daffodil time. 

When I got up with the dawning, 

Suddenly I knew 

It's lilac o'clock, 

But half past daffodil. 

It will be peonies in a week or two. 

But when is it iris? 

I forgot. Crocus is long gone. 

Poppies — when are they? 

Roses are a month away. 

Dandelions are always. 

Marge Robinson 



Art Schmaltz 

The last article in this special men's issue on birth 
and nurturing will explore an event that is specific 
to males in this culture — circumcision. The cir- 
cumcision of males in all cultures is a social ritual, 
and one of my purposes here will be to investigate 
the interactional dynamics involved, including the 
gender politics and sex stereotyping that underlie 
this practice. Although male circumcision would 
seem to be primarily a men's issue, it is my con- 
tention that this ritual has vectors pointing to- 
wards women also. An interactional perspective 
aims toward opening a debate into the psycho- 
social dynamics that surround the infant circumci- 
sion ritual. 

The framing of the issue of male circumcision as a 
"ritual" allows for the widest investigatory ap- 
proach to a very complex social practice. Although 
current debate on male circumcision is primarily 
focused on medical issues, this paper will explore 
the deeper cultural dynamics at work and accept, 
prima facie, the American Academy of Pediatrics 
position: "There are no valid medical reasons for 
routine circumcision of the newborn" (1975). In 
any case, the medical claims for this surgery 
remain mired in cultural presuppositions of 
"hygiene." We need only remember that within 
the medical profession itself circumcision became 
popular because the procedure was touted as a 
"masturbation cure." 

Male circumcision as a cultural practice long 
predates modern medical practice. Cross-cultural 
studies show that male circumcision, and other 
rituals of genital mutilation are common occur- 
rences in world cultures, and in many cultures, 
the most significant social ceremony. Social rituals 
can serve to liberate or constrain the human spirit. 
Male circumcision as "ritual" seems to fall into the 
latter category. By exploring the less than benign 
or dark side of this ritual practice, both a cultural 
critique and therapeutic are implied. 

Joseph Birdsell's (1953) classic study reveals that 
one of the social functions of male circumcision 
was to serve as a population control device — 
circumcision as a form of infanticide. Because the 
deaths from the surgical wound generally oc- 
curred long after the ceremony, and as a result of 

infection, with only a percentage of infants dying, 
the children's deaths could be attributed to the 
whims of the gods and not through human 
agency. Even today with all the advantages of 
modern medicine, the surgical procedure is not 
without risk. One in every 500 infants suffers 
serious complications from this surgery. We surely 
cannot include "infanticide" as one of our 
culture's motives for the popularity of this ritual, 
but, as I hope to demonstrate, the continuation of 
this practice may reflect something of this society's 
general indifference to infant pain and suffering. 
Our infant mortality ranking is 18th in the world 
and that is saying something about our society's 
lack of concern for the newborn. 

Birdsell's research linked the practice of circumci- 
sion to ecological dynamics. Marginal ecologies, 
both natural and man-made, required the subse- 
quent need for severe population control mea- 
sures. What is relevant are the historical origins of 
the circumcision ritual in this society. The reli- 
gious roots of the ritual are Judeo-Christian and 
arose in the Middle East. Today, male circumci- 
sion is almost universal in the Middle East re- 
gions. The marginal environments and low rainfall 
of this region would seem to bear out Birdsell's 
ecological model for this ritual's origins. I am sure 
that some families might reconsider this ritual act 
if they knew that the historical origins of circumci- 
sion were grounded in infanticide. 

Anthropologists have also linked this ritual prac- 
tice to strong patriarchial, male-aggressive cul- 
tures. It is these latter issues that I would like to 
focus upon. The significant meanings of male 
circumcision are not vestigial symbols from our 
archaic mythological past — a living infant's body 
is permanently altered by surgical means. What 
does this do to the infant? What does this do to the 
mother of the infant? An analysis of these ques- 
tions may shed some light on what it means to be 
male, and what it means to be female in our 

By viewing male circumcision from the wider 
perspective that is afforded by anthropology , we 
can see how male circumcision and other male 
specific rituals fit cross-cultural patterns. Cultures 
create and promulgate specific "ideals o( man- 
hood". (Men should be afforded a perspective 
from which they can choose and discard these 
ideals and attending rituals if they are constrain- 
ing.) For the male, "trials of ordeal" are the rule 


and not the exception in most cultures. Men must 
show that they can endure ritualized pain, or else 
they won't become men. The ethnographic litera- 
ture is quite clear in demonstrating that male- 
specific rituals often involve traumatization and 
terror. Such devices are effective in establishing 
social control, and serve as a means of imposing 
cultural ideals upon the male (Gilmore 1990). 

The focus on the traumatizing dimensions of male 
circumcision ritual is necessary in order to reveal 
this ritual's cultural force. In researching this topic 
and in interviewing parents I discovered that 
infant circumcision is traumatizing as a surgical 
procedure, both to the infant and to his parents. 
This surgicial wound can set the stage for and 
initiate an enduring psychopathological relation- 

Karen and Jeffery Paige argue in their text The 
Politics of Reproductive Ritual that circumcision is 
not necessarily directed at the person on whom 
the ritual is performed, but that the ritual is per- 
formed and directed mainly at "the community of 
observers." The ritual is most common in patriar- 
chal societies, "societies with powerful and some- 
times massive fraternal interest groups, chronic 
internal warfare and feuds, and tight contractual 
control over women and marriage" (p. 123). The 
relationship between circumcision and male 
aggression and violence appears to have cross- 
cultural validation. 

One group within this "communiuty of observers" 
at whom circumcision is directed is women. Here 
we have both anthropological and psycho-physi- 
ological data indicating that circumcision is an 
aggression against women. In this culture where 
the ritual is performed shortly after the woman 
has given birth, women are physically and emo- 
tionally vulnerable, and the interaction between 
mother and infant is vulnerable to disruption. The 
critical interactive process of mother/infant 
bonding is, or should be, taking place at this time. 
To quote Donald Winnicott: "Trauma implies that 
the baby has experienced a break in life's continu- 
ity." Because of this intense symbiotic relation 
between mother and infant, a break in the bonding 
process can easily result. The infant circumcision 
can affect the bonding at a number of levels, 
beginning at the most fundamental biological 

When women are not overmedicated during and 
after the birthing process, they often describe the 

reverie and intense experience of oneness with the 
infant. One woman described how this changed 
during the circumcision procedure: "The nurse 
came and took away my baby for what I thought 
was a routine procedure, but the baby that they 
brought back was somehow not the same... he 
cried and cried or just fussed endlessly, we didn't 
seem to respond to each other in the same way 
anymore, the magic was gone." 

There is sufficient data showing short-term 
trauma to the circumcised infant: changes in sleep 
behavior, physiological stress reactions, increased 
crying — behaviors that persisted three months 
into the study (Richards 1979). We don't yet have 
hard data on long term psychological effects on 
infant or mother, but the majority of women that I 
have interviewed speak of their son's circumcision 
with ambivalence. Internalizing the infant's 
trauma by the mother is a relevant issue for the 
psychology of women. In speaking with women 
on the topic, I was surprised at the depth of 
unresolved feelings of guilt, anger, helplessness 
that quickly surfaced when the circumcision 
experience was relived — even for women whose 
sons are now adult. 

A most relevant event happens to the circumcision 
ritual when women take back control of the 
birthing process from the male-dominated medical 
establishment — women stop circumcising their 
infants! When women opt for control of their labor 
and birthing through the homebirth option, they 
also overwhelmingly choose to leave their son's 
penis intact: less than 10% circumcision rate for 
this group (Eisenstein). 

An exploration of the traumatizing aspects of male 
circumcision would not be complete without 
exploring the sexual aspects of the ritual. Anthro- 
pologically speaking, male circumcision is classi- 
fied as one of many forms of "genital mutilation" 
rituals. The controversial issue for men and 
women involves the degree to which male circum- 
cision can be considered a form of sexual abuse. 
Do circumcised men have in their life history a 
childhood sexual trauma? Sexual traumas experi- 
enced in infancy and early childhood are known 
to have consequences that carry over into adult 

We know now that the perpetrator need not be 
seeking sexual gratification, but that issues of 
control are often central in sexual abuse. But 
placing in abeyance for now the "motives" of the 


circumcisor, we must make the empathic leap that 
Donald Winnecott speakes of and consider this 
ritual practice from "the infant's point of view." It 
is well established that infants at birth possess all 
the necessary psychological development, 
memory, complex perceptual development, 
interactional or social awareness to internalize a 
"sexual trauma." 

From the infant's point of view being strapped to a 
board then having one's penis manipulated then 
having the foreskin cut away.. .this trauma to the 
genitals is very likely stored as an early memory 
for the infant. Anyone having witnessed the 
procedure with the infant strapped naked and 
"spread-eagled" cannot deny that the image is one 
of bondage and sexual sadism. Infants, during the 
initial circumcision proceedings, do tend to re- 
spond to the genital stimulation. David Chamber- 
lain in his infant research observed that infant 
boys "had sustained erections while their legs 
were strapped to the circumcision board and they 
were awaiting circumcision" (Chamberlain, p. 14). 

Freud's notion of "primary narcissism" has 
proven to be unfounded. Infants are social, inter- 
actional beings from birth. If one's first social 
experience is to be sexually stimulated, then 
sexually wounded, will this serve as a foundation 
for latter social interactions? Will the association of 
stimulation, bondage, and pain impact upon adult 
sexual behavior? Indeed, if this exact ritual proce- 
dure were performed on adult males, attributes of 
"assault" and "rape" would define the situation. 

Sketchy research indicates that many adult males 
retain "motor memories" of their circumcision. My 
own early research reveals a patterned behavioral 
response among adult circumcised men. When the 
topic of circumcision was introduced into the 
discourse, the men displayed aversion behavior. 
Videotaped analysis shows a common pattern of 
closing and tightening of the thighs, positioning of 
the hands to where they can protect the genitals, 
and a constriction of the muscles in the groin in an 
attempt to withdraw the penis inside for protec- 
tion. This response is often tacit, or unconscious, 
often with no manifest verbal avoidance state- 

There is some evidence to suggest that many adult 
males harbor an unresolved sexual trauma — their 
circumcision. As a hypothesis this would explain 
certain sociological patterns. If we view circumci- 
sion as a partem or cycle of sexual abuse, certain 

anomalies make sense: The number one reason 
fathers give for circumcising their infants is "to 
make the boy look like his dad." — the obverse is 
rarely the case (Briggs 1985). Two relevant expla- 
nations for this response might be: "the repetition 
compulsion" — unresolved sexual conflicts and 
traumas tend to be reenacted upon others: the 
father must do to the boy what was done to him; 
and, the "reverse self object phenomenon", this is 
a pathological interaction whereby there exists 
incomplete individuation on the part of the father, 
and the infant is merely an extension of the 
father's incomplete "self". The boy is under the 
injunction to not only look like the father, but to 
actually be the father! 

When confronted with the actual pain that the 
infant experiences during the surgical procedure, 
the most common adult responses tend to be: the 
surgical procedure is painless; the infant feels no 
pain, because infants are incapable of feeling pain; 
or the pain is only transient and not remembered. 
It is the dynamics of denial and the lack of empa- 
thy for the infant's pain that may have the most 
traumatizing pathogenic effects (Balint 1969). 

My interest and activities in the natural birthing 
movement have given me the opportunity to talk 
with midwives and natural childbirth instructors. 
The issue of circumcision invariably comes up, 
and as one instructor told me: "The parents in my 
classes seem receptive to even the most radical 
concepts of natural childbirth except one, circum- 
cision. It's like I hit a stonewall on this. I show 
them all the studies debunking the medical claims 
for the procedure, I even show them graphic 
videos of the foreskin removal — all for nought, so 
far I'm batting zero, they all have it done to their 
little boys!" But on a positive note, the statistical 
trend does show a decline in the circumcision 
rate — mainly because many insurance companies 
refuse to view this practice as "medical," and 
refuse to pay for it. And I am increasingly meeting 
women who have shown enormous courage in 
protecting the integrity of their sons' anatomy in 
the face of psychological pressure from spouse, 
family, medical, and religious sources. 

Circumcision is very much a women's issue. 
Gender politics and issues of control are at the 
heart of the ritual. Circumcision is also very much 
a men's issue. Direct or indirect threats against the 
man's penis have always been a means of achiev- 
ing control and conformity. Circumcision is a 


ritual aimed at installing castration fear in men; 
and fathers who are concerned with nurturing and 
not dominating their sons are refusing this ritual 



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California Press. 

A sunrise of purity 
And sweet innocence 
Has dawned 

And we can all hope again 

This latest arrival 
Bearing age-old 
Messages of survival 

This ancient little mensch 
Spanking new 

Who carries on 
Long deliberations 
With his feathery fingers 

He is an old, old magic 
Endlessly renewed 

He springs from the 
Dead center of our nature 

He is our mystery 
And we are his 

Everyone, quickly, 
Hurry here to Jason 

Get a look at 
Something we all lost 
Before the should's 
And the should not's arrive 
Followed closely by 
The professors 

Sidney Miller 



Barbara Conant 

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Art Schmaltz 

The impetus to create Mother Earth EI has a 
specific psychological trigger. In April of 1988 my 
wife went into premature labor and gave birth to a 
daughter that lived only a day and a half. A whole 
series of experiences left me with a complex of 
unresolved issues: the loss of a child, the way my 
wife was treated by the male medical establish- 
ment, the way men are treated by the medical 
establishment in regard to the birth experience. 

This work evokes images of the oppression of 
women, the crises in obstetrics, our culture's 
attitude toward the birth process, and, at a reli- 
gious-historical level, the displacement and re- 
pression of the Mother Goddess. 

The iconic representation and dominant image is a 
Goddess Form. The archaic or non-Western style 
of the Goddess makes reference to the fact that for 
over 99% of human history, god was a woman. 
The Goddess/woman is distressed. The displace- 
ment of the Mother Earth Deity for the Patriarchal 
Martyred-Male icon marks what Gregory Bateson 
calls an "error in epistemology" that has ecological 
consequences - possible species extinction. 

The threat of the closing pincers upon the sus- 
pended fetal forms portrays an ominous image: 
"macho-techno power," symbolized by the huge 
pincers, overpowers both the laboring woman and 
the helpless fetuses. The obstetric references are 
apparent - laboring women forced to wear fetal 
monitors, forced into stirrups, increasingly forced 
to birth through surgical wounds - caesarean 
sections and episiotomies. 

The public exposure of a laboring woman and of 
unformed fetal bodies alludes to women's threat- 
ened reproductive right. Women's privacy is 
obscenely violated by the male-controlled political 
"right to life" movement. Women are pitted 
against women, evidence of the meanness of 
patriarchal politics. 

Mother Earth is laboring astride huge pincer - 
forceps. The earth is strained against increasing 
technological force. "Astride of a grave and a 
difficult birth, down in the hold lingeringly the 
grave digger put on forceps" (Samuel Beckett). 
The sculpture also signifies women's loss of 
control over the birthing process. The laboring 
mother is in the grip of the large steel pincer/ 
forceps - a symbol of male power and dominance. 
The sculpture symbolizes the elimination of 
midwifery and the forced submission of women to 
male/technological control over the birth ^experi- 

The laboring woman is held captive while precipi- 
tating countless fetuses in order to feed the narcis- 
sistic macho imperative to "proliferate one's 
genetic material." The fetal forms spill past the 
patriarchal steel grip onto a cold, hard, black 



Ancestral Figure, Steel, 36" x 24", 1990, Art Schmaltz. Photo credit: Richard Burd. 



Dream Flight, maple, 26" x 22", 1985, Art Schmaltz. Photo credit: Richard Burd. 

Mother Earth, Steel, 7 x 36", 1990, Art Schmaltz. 
Photo credit: Richard Burd. 




Paul Schranz 

Street or documentary photography is far more 
than just the obtaining of recordings of people 
acting out their natural tasks. They are not clan- 
destine nor are the subjects unilaterally vulnerable 
to the photographer. The concept of good docu- 
mentary photography is based on social communi- 
cation between the photographer and the subject; 
the vulnerability and the respect must be raised 
and held by both parties in an extremely short 
time. Trust is given perhaps under flimsy circum- 
stances. The documentary photographer may not 
have the ability nor time to offer a long explana- 
tion of his or her reasons for making the photo- 
graphs. Nor do either the subject or the photogra- 
pher have the time to establish anything more 
than a superficial sense of whether or not either 
one can be trusted in showing the truth. The 
photographer may lie in the positioning or instruc- 
tions to make the subject fit more in line with his 
or her ideas of how the subject should look. The 
subject may lie in order to present a more positive 
circumstance for the viewer. In this type of pho- 
tography, mixed in with expediency and shallow 
reasoning, is a hopeful blend of morality, human- 
ity, ethics, and an understanding of a moment's 
collaboration in creating an image supposedly 
reflecting some truth. 

In Martin Lueder's photographs this social interac- 
tion takes place in two general categories. In one 
group, we see what is supposedly a candid or 
unaware portrait. The subject is not in direct 
contact nor confrontation with the photographer. 
They interact with their environments taking on 
similar tones, textures and repeated edges. They 
appear theatrical, perhaps by the exaggeration of 
the subjects in the knowledge that they are indeed 
performing for the photographer. Still they are 
one — and in each case, either content or serene. 

The other category is one of direct confrontation. 
In these portraits the subjects display the most 
confidence. The subject not only directs his stare at 

the photographer but offers an air of arrogance 
about his given lot in life. What makes Lueders' 
photographs of this type so strong is his aware- 
ness of the environment — not as an adjective of 
explanation, but rather as a third party commen- 
tary. The arrogance of the subject is confronted by 
the look-alike potatoes and pigs — there is a 
heightened sense of complex drama. Unfolding on 
the main stage are the actors and their audience 
(Lueders). The subplot is the relationship between 
the subjects, their environments, and questions 
about whether all of this may have been predes- 
tined because of the similarities. The subplot of the 
images becomes the real interest in Lueders' 

Paul Schranz is University Professor of Photography at 
Governors State University. 




Martin Lueders 

C.H. Spurgeon once wrote, "Test everything by experience. Human beings cannot be added up like a 
column of figures: you can only know men by living with them." In February, 1989, 1 left college and 
moved to London in order to test by experience. I found work as a laborer on a building site and as I 
became acquainted with the "blokes" I worked with, I began making portraits of them. Gradually, these 
portraits evolved into a cohesive series wherein I extended the scope of the project to include people from 
all walks of working class life in locations throughout London. 

Basically, these portraits reflect the notion that we all have strengths and weaknesses which when given 
the opportunity, we're willing and able to share with others. It was photographer Robert Frank who said, 
"The best would be no writing at all." 

Untitled, Martin Lueders 




and Greengrocer, 


Martin Lueders, 1989 



Vincenzo, Martin Lueders, 1989 

ill II 'U 

Untitled, Martin Lueders, 1989 



Despatch Rider #19, 

Martin Lueders, 


Rob Saunders, 
Unemployed Laborer, 
Martin Lucdcrs, 1990 




"The difference between popular and unpopular photography examines the reality of a male-oriented society 
in which the exhibition of female nudity is permissible while that of male nudity is not. This sociologi- 
cal statement by Boersma makes the double standard apparent: the scrutiny of the male gaze relegates 
women to a subservient position in our culture, while the men retain a privileged, inviolate status." - 
from program notes for Simple Truths, Works by Jay Boersma, Chicago Public Library Cultural 
Center, October 1989. 




Jay Boersma 



As men we have so little holding us together. 

Those women have a chain going back to Sappho and beyond. 

They carry their daughters with them nine months 

Before letting them out into the harsh world; 

While we scramble to remember 

Which night of pleasure resulted in our sons. 

Some men have never touched their fathers. 

Some fathers try to certify their sons: 

"Is there any part of me in him?" 

It's been months since those chromosomes swam away. 

How could they remember anything of me? 

Out connection cannot be in a womb-like past 

But must lie in a constructed future 

Made of body and soul, tenderness and daring, 

And whatever else we can muster. 


It's cloudy outside. 
Inside my sky is clear. 
A few tiny cumulus clouds appear 
to the west 
But my Spirit is alive and can blow them away. 

If I am the changer I must also let myself be changed. 

If I expect to intrude, I can learn to welcome. 

We are in the men's house, grumbling. 

I want any of us who know anything of love 

To come forth as teachers. 

I want us to take off our masks. 

There isn't a man among us 

Who doesn't need to learn a little more. 

Tom Seidner 

I soar as on wings of eagles 

Swoop down, land on limb, fold my wings, 

Snuggle fledglings in my breast. 

My talons are sharp. 
I gage down from the next, target a fish. 
Eyes, wing, and talon become one. 
Tree to water to tree in one 

unified motion 
I bring home to the next that which I desire 

for myself 

for those I love. 

Only the sadness the fish must die 
darkens the cumulus clouds. 

Dave Matteson 




Temmie Gilbert, on the Editorial Board of this 
magazine since its inception, has won her third 
Emmy Award for her children's television show, 
"Odd Potato." The half-hour drama tells the story 
of a young Jewish girl whose family is about to 
celebrate its first Hanukkah since the mother died. 
As the family struggles with their sorrows, the 
traditional lighting of the Hanukkah menorah 
brings the family together. Her earlier prizes were 
for "Nothing is Simple," a story about inter-racial 
dating, and "The Magic Door", a weekly Sunday 
morning children's show on CBS-TV. Dear 
Temmie, you've done it again! Congratulations! 
Photo credit: Loretta Calcaterra 


The Take Charge Award, worth $1000, honors 
women over 30 who have overcome obstacles and 
made a positive change in their lives. Judy Panko 
Reis, 39, was selected from a field of over 2,000 
applicants. Her story is an inspiration: ten years 
ago Judy was research manager for an interna- 

tional consulting firm, engaged to a doctor, and 
while camping in Hawaii, they were attacked. Her 
fiance was bludgeoned to death and Judy was left 
with a crushed skull and brain. Judy has truly 
encountered overwhelming obstacles; she is still 
partially paralyzed, and has too many blind spots 
to drive a car. However, she is now a wife and 
mother (son Shelley is three), and has completed 
her master's degree in philosophy at the Univer- 
sity of Chicago, studying mind-brain relation- 
ships. She is now pursuing a Master of Science in 
Communication degree at Northwestern Univer- 
sity. She does free-lance consulting for a law firm 
and serves on advisory boards of PACE, RTA, 
CTA, and the Midwestern Brain Trauma Center of 
Northwestern University's Rehabilitation Institute 
of Chicago. It was Kathleen Burch at the Rehabili- 
tation Institute who urged Judy to submit her 
biography for the award. 

Judy found The Creative Woman by coming to a 
Chicago Women in Publishing panel discussion, 
where this editor was holding forth on little 
magazines. Before the evening was over we had 
agreed to do a special issue on women with 
disabilities and to call it "Swimming Upstream.'' 
Judy will be guest editor for this long-awaited 
issue to be published in Summer 1991. Readers: 
don't miss this one. Judy, we are proud of you! 

Photo credit: Oscar Izquierdo 





OGDEN, UTAH 84408 

Quilt As Metaphor. The editors invite contributions for a book of 
essays that explore the metaphorical significance of quilts and 
quilting. We are interested in essays that examine, in 
theoretically interesting ways, quilts and the process of making 
them as textile texts, political acts, or cultural commentary. We 
also encourage submission of interviews, photos or other forms of 
discourse on the topic. Send inquiries or 4 page abstracts by 
September 1, 1991 to Judy Elsley, English Department, Weber State 
University, Ogden, UT 84403-1201, or Cheryl Torsney, Department 
of English, West Virginia University, 230 Stansbury Hall, 
Morgantown, WV 26506. 

Feminist Women's Writing Workshops, Inc. 
P.O. Box 6583 Ithaca, NY 14851 

The Feminist Women's Writing Workshops announces its 17th annual summer 
conference, July 14-26, 1991, at the lakeside campus of Wells College, Aurora, N.Y. 
This year's guest speakers are Jewelle Gomez, Grace Paley, and Nancy Bereano. 
resident faculty are Mary G ill i land and Shay Youngblood. Share in small group 
discussion, with individual conferences, private writing time, feminist bookstore and 
discussion with editors included. Supportive atmosphere, honest criticism, contact with 
serious writers. We welcome women in all genres and with all degrees of experience. 
Early enrollment is encouraged. Some scholarship aid is available. Please send query by 
April 15, 1991. For descriptive brochure, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to 
Rachel Guido deVries, Director, Feminist Women's Writing Workshops, P.O. Box 
6583, Ithaca, N.Y. 14851. 

2103 Harrison St. NW f Suite 2211 
Olympia, WA 98502 

equipment donations and personal histories for 
a film about the Black Madonnas of Europe. 
Send donations or inquiries to: The Black Virgin 
Film Project, 2103 Harrison NW , Suite 2211, 
Olympia, WA 98502. 



mw Womei 

Women Make Movies 

and Words , a 
films on poets, 
wr iters such as 

to con t empo rary 
Available for 

Women Make Movies is pleased to announce Women 
multicultural collection of seven award-winning 
essayists and novelists, from historical women 
Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Sarah Orne Jewett, 
favorites like Alice Walker and Toni Morrison 
purchase or rental, individually or for video sale as a 
discounted set. Contact Women Make Movies, 225 Lafayette, Suite 
207, New York, NY 10012 (212)92 5-0606 for ordering information or 
to obtain the Women and Words brochure. The complete WMM 
catalogue is also available upon request. 




The International Women's Writing Guild (IWWG) will celebrate 
the publication of 90 books published by its membership (in 1990) 
at its 14th Annual Summer Conference at Skidmore College, Saratoga 
Springs, NY, August 9-16, 1991. 

The IWWG is a network for the personal and professional 
empowerment of women through writing. Conference attendees need 
not be members of the IWWG and attendance reguires no writing pre- 
requisites. For further information about The International 
Women's Writing Guild and/or the 1991 Summer Conference, contact 
Hannelore Hahn, c/o IWWG, PO Box 810, Gracie Station, New York, NY 
10028. Tel: (212) 737-7536. 


We mark with sorrow the passing of three of our writers: 

Elaine Nelson CJarretson 

September 30, 1912 

January 23, 1991 

Edith Perlmutter 
December 8, 1914 
December 31, 1990 

Sonja Rita Weil 
September 2, 1943 
November 20, 1990 

Each of these women, in her own way, left us a gift of herself. Our previous issue 
on Life Stories contained a memoir by Elaine Qarretson, "The Music Box," a grace- 
ful account of her coming of age from girl to woman, and the special meanings of a 
treasured possession. Edith Perlmutter amused us with her story of triumph in "The 
Annual Faculty Barbecue Bash" and forced us to consider the "Ironies" in our lives as 
we read her rueful and witty account of hers. In Sonja Weil's story of her grand- 
mother, "The Rose Qarden," she teaches us to capture beauty and tenderness even 
from the most terrible memories. All three of these remarkable women say to us, 
"Remember all the good you can. Don't forget my love." 


We gratefully acknowledge a donation to The Creative Woman from the estate of Sonja Rita Weil, conveyed by 
William C. Wilkinson, Estate Administrator. Bill told us, "If Sonja could speak to us, I think she would say, I want 
you to have this ." Our deepest thanks for a particularly touching gift. 



1 A Journal 

Hypatia / ( ,:;';"7 

/ Philosophy 

HYPATIA, a journal founded by members of the 

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dialogue within the women's movement, is 
dedicated to the publication of scholarly research 

in feminist philosophy 
and the only journal in 
the country for 
scholarly research at 
the intersection of 
philosophy and 
women's studies. 




Triannual. Subscriptions: S25 individuals (one year), $48.00 
individuals (two years), $40 institutions. Outside US, add S10 
per year for foreign surface postage. Send orders to Indiana 
University Press, Journals Division, 10th & Morton Streets 
Bloomington, IN 47405. Or call 812-855-9449. 


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The newsletter of the 
American members of the 
International Jean Gebser 
Society, devoted to the 
research and communication 
of civilization/culture and 
human consciousness. We 
publish twice each year in 
March and October. We 
include short papers, poems, 
book reviews, information of 
interest to our readers, and 
news of members' activities. 
There is no charge for the 
newsletter. To receive the 
Gebser Network Newsletter 
write to: 

Michael Purdy, Editor 
Division of Communication 
Governors State University 
University Park. 1L 60466 



Dear Editor, 

I appreciated Bethe Hagens' good-natured re- 
sponse to my criticisms and also Art Schmaltz's 
contribution to our mini-debate. At the risk of 
boring some of your readers, I would like to 
respond to three important points that were 

First, Bethe Hagens' claim that the Hopi language 
does not have nouns and verbs had me puzzled. 
For a short while I even thought that I myself 
might have fallen prey to the kind of "mental- 
rational" prejudgment that Art Schmaltz men- 
tioned in his rejoinder to my Letter to the Editor. 
Not trusting my memory of the ethnographic 
knowledge I acquired in the 1970s while doing 
postgraduate research in anthropology at the 
University of Durham, England, I checked up on 
available Hopi grammars. To my surprise, there 
are none. I then looked through Armin Geertz's 
book Children of Cottonwood, which contains 
translations of Hopi stories together with the 
Hopi original text. It took a bit of detective work 
on my part, but it seemed to me that the Hopi 
language clearly has both nouns and verbs, and 
makes a distinction between subject and object, as 
I had claimed in my original letter. But I wanted 
to make quite sure, and so I got in touch with 
Professor Ekkehart Malotki of Northern Arizona 
University, who is considered to be the authority 
on the Hopi language. He confirmed my conclu- 

Referring me to his mammoth monograph Hopi 
Time, published in 1983, he also confirmed my 
suspicion that the widely made claim that the 
Hopi language does not distinguish between past, 
present, and future tense is inaccurate. Time is 
expressed but in a different way from English. 
This misunderstanding appears to go back to 
Benjamin Whorf, as has been pointed out by 

Second, Art Schmaltz's claim that the Inuit (Es- 
kimo) language "functions quite well without 
nouns and verbs" appears to be similarly mis- 
leading. Consulting Ken Harper's grammar on 
Eskimo languages, I found sentences like iglumik 
takuvunga ("I see a house"), which demonstrate 
that Inuit does in fact have nouns and verbs. 
Apart from this fact, his lexicon also clearly 
distinguishes between nouns and verbs. What is 


also true, however, is that in the Inuit language 
verbs are exceedingly prominent and over 600 
verbal forms are distinguished. By comparison, 
there are a mere 300 verbal forms in Greek and 400 
in Sanskrit. Inuit is a highly "incorporating" 
language; that is, it modifies verbs to indicate 
possessive pronouns, etc., and this may give the 
impression of there not being a subject and an 

Thirdly, without meaning to be pugnacious about 
it, I must challenge Art Schmaltz's interpretation 
of archaic GaiaSpeak as being "integral" in the 
sense intended by Jean Gebser. It is clear from 
Gebser's work that the integral mode of conscious- 
ness is emerging only today — on the foundations 
of the archaic, magical, mythical, and mental- 
rational structures of consciousness. Also 
Schmaltz is mistaken when he characterizes the 
integral consciousness as "egoless." According to 
Gebser, egolessness pertains to the magical struc- 
ture, whereas the integral consciousness is marked 
by ego-transcendence or ego-freedom, which is 
quite a different "thing." In Ken Wilber's terms, he 
has committed the "pre/trans fallacy." 

According to Gebser's evolutionary model, 
GaiaSpeak can be assigned to the era of the late 
archaic /magical consciousness, which preceded, 
as Schmaltz rightly noted, the neolithic age. For 
this reason it is indeed enormously difficult to 
reconstruct the grammar and vocabulary of 
GaiaSpeak, and the risk of mental-rational projec- 
tion is omnipresent in any such attempt. We must 
almost become "ego/ess" in order to intuit 
GaiaSpeak. This is an interesting psychological 
and epistemological issue, which Gebser began to 
tackle, though not without meeting great resis- 
tance in academic circles where ratio reigns su- 
preme and where, at least in theory, other modes 
of knowing are deemed inferior and invalid as 
research tools. I have written about Gebser's 
integrative methodology in my book Structures of 

The above criticisms notwithstanding, I agree with 
both Hagens and Schmaltz that reconstructing 
GaiaSpeak is a worthwhile and an exhilarating 
task. We will learn from it, regardless of whether 
or not it will be successful. 

Georg Feuerstein 
Lower Lake, CA 95457 


"Thoughts on Leaving" 

When Jesper told me that we'd be leaving Illinois (my birth- 
place and home for many years), I decided I'd take a small vial 
of black prairie earth with me as a symbol of a place I hold 
dear. As the day came for me to leave, I found I'd reached a 
new understanding about what we take with us as we take 
our leave from beloved people or places. 

It is what we hold in our hearts — not in our hands — that 

I left Illinois with empty hands, but not with an empty heart. 

So many of you, met there in these last years, have made my 
life rich and happy. And for the gifts of love and friendship 
you have extended to me, I bless you. 

As I sit here, listening to the sea pounding in the high tide, you are with me. Though there is distance 
between us, we are One. As the circle created by the earth, the sky, the sea, we are One. 




Claudia Snow 

Windy Hill 

Rye, New Hampshire 

(Claudia Snow worked on this magazine in the 1980 's 
and organized the community support group, Friends of 
The Creative Woman, later The Creative Woman 



Dear Editor, 

The Fall 1990 issue of The Creative Woman 
captured me like an adolescent admirer. The first 
fifteen pages did it, starting with the Introduction. 
My hat is off to you for choosing the theme Life 
Stories and introducing it so sensitively and 

So many of my strings vibrated in resonance with 
Rev. Gibbons' beautifully open sharing of her 
"imperfections, addictions and denials," that I 
want to know her more. Sharing life stories to the 
point of vulnerability does this of course. 

As Rev. Gibbons wrestles with being a "real 
feminist," I wrestle with being "the real Me," free 
of pretense and conditioning. I am painfully 
familiar "on a deep level (with) my addiction to 
approval." The imagery and sense of healing in 
her "sources of living water," are very moving for 
me, and nourish the work I do on my addictions in 
Re-Evaluation Counseling. 

Next. Mary Endres Fyfe blew me away with her 
evolving clarity from her life's experiences, of the 
connection between creativity and spirituality. 
When she writes, 

• "Within each person lies creative and spiritual 

• "We must all become artists," 

• "Since the creative process is so closely linked 
with the spiritual, this makes for transpersonal 

my heart stands up and cheers! 

It reminds me of the 12th century teachings of 
Hildegard of Bingen, reshaped by Meister Eckhart 
in the 14th century, into the four paths of our 
spiritual journey. Path I is the Via Positiva, Be- 
friending Creation. 

When she writes, "high points in (our lives), 
usually come when we discard something and 
take a step forward," it reminds me of Eckhart's 
Path II, Befriending the Darkness: Letting Go And 
Letting Be. 

Where Mary Fyfe's creative energy finds expres- 
sion in her weaving, mine flows out in my speak- 
ing and writing - telling The Cosmic Story, the 
magnificent unfolding event we call the universe. 

My dear friend and co-counselor, Anais Salibian, 
experiences a profound interaction between her 
"childhood horror stories" and the "hill's protec- 
tive presence." Communing with the salamanders 
at their annual ritual of coming alive, she realizes, 
"simply knowing when to find them is to be in 
touch with the personal life of the planet." 

Envying Anais' sensitivity to the planet and all of 
its trees and other creatures, I am renewed again 
in my sense of trust that the universe knows what 
it is doing. As I am open and really Me, the uni- 
verse will continue to express its love and its 
wisdom through me, and the whole human 

Turning the page, there was Barbara Hanson's 
memoir of her personal experience with General 
Pershing. This stimulated warm sophomoric 
memories for me, from the summer of '37, when I 
had a terrific crush on this beautiful, intelligent, 
caring, sophisticated woman of my dreams. 
All in all, an enriching experience of beautiful 
persons sharing important personal truths. How 
exciting to know that there is an emerging com- 
munity of folks growing in self-awareness and 
self-esteem, talking about creativity and spiritual- 
ity, teaching and leading others by modeling love 
and authenticity. 

Wayne McKusick 
Rochester, N.Y. 




Rockf ord College, established in 1 847 as Rockford 
Female Seminary, and coeducational since 1958, 
does not have a degree program in Women's 
Studies ; it does not need one to create a feminist 
presence on the wooded, rolling campus in Rock- 
ford, Illinois. We were there in April to see 
Gwendolyn Brooks read her poetry and receive 
the Jane Addams medal, named for Rockford 
College's most distinguished alumna. Maddox 
Theatre was packed with an appreciative audience 
who applauded the warmth and wit, the profound 
humanity of Illinois' Poet Laureate, Pulitzer Prize 
winner and best-known African-American poet. 

This was the first event in a week-long celebration 
of women in the arts. Audrey Flack arrived to talk 
and show slides of her work, from her early 
photo-realism that shocked the art world and 
offended the critics to her majestic sculpture series 
now being installed in Rock Hill, South Carolina. 
Twice life size, the four caryatids are gilded 
bronze personifications of Education, Culture, 
Industry and Function. The sculptures mark a 
public space framed by two sixty-foot high col- 
umns faced in ceramic tile, providing an impres- 
sive cultural statement in a small southern textile 
city. As she revealed her development from 
painting to sculpture, it was clear that the attacks 
of the critics served to radicalize Flack, to make 
her aware of the feminist iconography in her 
work. Before Jolie Madame (an early painting that 
became a feminist rallying-cry) , she had simply 
painted what she liked — jewelry, porcelain, 
mirrors, perfume bottles — discovering after the 
fact that she had been painting women's icons, 
and that what offended the critics was not her 
style but her subject matter. This moment of truth 
led her to her present goddess-centered epiphany 
and a re-claiming of the classic Greek-Roman form 
for our time. In her transition from private (in- 
door) painting to public (civic, outdoor) sculpture, 
she takes all of us along with her on her magnifi- 
cent journey. 

Melissa Ann Pinney gave a slide-show-lecture on 
women in the art of documentary photography. 

Her photographs show what is usually left out of 
the documentary record of a wedding: the getting 
ready to display or present oneself, for example, in 
the beauty salon, the laundry room. These ceremo- 
nies of preparation convey a sadness, a sacramen- 
tal, even sacrificial quality. In contrast, her rural 
photographs of pregnant women, women grouped 
in three generations (maiden, mother, crone) 
confront the viewer with powerful, matriarchal, 
truthful images. These women do not need to "get 
ready" for they are already complete, entire, 
integrated, and natural. 

Cecilia Condit, video artist, showed her work and 
expanded on these short experimental pieces 
dealing with violence against women, contrasted 
with the fragility, beauty and sweetness of 
women. Her techniques are complex, sophisti- 
cated, subtle and disturbing, a montage of images 
and double images, computerized translations. 
Her musical sound track is extraordinary. The 
truth that emanates from Condit's screen is not 
easy to take, and it haunts the viewer for days 
afterwards. Condit teaches film and video at the 
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. 

Virginia Eskin is a pianist who specializes in 
discovering and performing women composers. In 
a stunning tour de force, Eskin and Marian 
Hollinger, professor of art history at Rockford 
College, performed a duo event, alternating slides 
of women's paintings from turn of the century 
impressionists with piano pieces by women 
composers of the same era. The parallels from 
lyrical, impressionistic pieces to abstractions and 
ragtime were evocative and instructive. 

Throughout the week the college art gallery was 
showing "Women Viewing Women," a brilliant 
exhibit of contemporary women photographers. 
The show included works by African-American, 
Hispanic and Asian- American women photogra- 
phers, using manipulated images, mixed media, 
documentary materials, abstraction and text-and- 
image interwoven. We were pleased to recognize 
four of our published artists in this show: Judy 
Dater, Sherry Shapiro, Tamarra Kaida and Merry 
Moor Winnett. 

Who gets credit for pulling off this remarkable 
achievement, a full week of important and extraor- 
dinary events, exploring the reaches of contempo- 


rary feminist art? The organizing committee 
included Dr. Marian Hollinger, gallery director 
Barbara Morris, and Sue Cassidy. Rockford Col- 
lege President Gretchen Kreuter warmly sup- 
ported this ambitious endeavor, a series that 
would do credit to any college or university. 
Artists were chosen, we were told, "to explore the 
honesty, conviction, difficulties and satisfactions 
of a creative life" via "an openness to discovery, a 
receptivity to the possibilities of chance, and a 
committment to the honesty in life's circuitous 
paths." What a rich feast. What a treat. 



We're Looking for a Few Good Men 

And, like the Marine Corps, feminist women are 
finding them, sometimes in unexpected places. 
Unlike the Marine Corps, our definition of a "few 
good men" includes the trait of gentleness as well 
as toughness, sensitivity as well as endurance, and 
dedication to equality as well as devotion to duty. 

In addition to the good men — Art Schmaltz and 
Dave Matteson — strong pro-feminists who have 
worked long and hard to put this issue together, a 
few other remarkably encouraging specimens 
have lately come our way. 

Would one expect to find a convinced feminist in a 
Marine Corps fighter pilot, a veteran of over 100 
missions in Viet Nam, a Sioux warrior who has 
endured the traditional Sun Dance ceremony six 
times, who is also a lawyer, writer and lecturer? It 
does not fit the expectation, but life is surprising 
and Eagle Man Ed McGaa is such a one. 

Eagle Man Ed McGaa is the author of Mother Earth 
Spirituality and is preparing his second title for 
Harper and Row, on The Rainbow Tribe, which 
deals with the non-Indians in the Mother Earth 
spirituality movement. These non-Indians inspired 
by Native American teachings, are combining the 
Native teachings with environmental knowledge, 
feminism and ecological concerns. Eagle Man 
insists that a woman, personifying legendary 
Buffalo Calf Woman, open all ceremonies. The 
sweat lodge, particularly, requires a woman 
because the lodge represents the womb of mother 
earth, from which we all come and to which we all 


return. He asserts that this is the time for women 
to come forward and take charge of ceremonies, 
and to provide leadership if the planet's life is to 
survive and flourish. He writes, 

"Womankind is half the human world, but most 
importantly, women are the peaceful ones, and in this 
new era, it is the most peaceful ones who will bring 
ultimate harmony. Perhaps it is because our spirit 
guide happens to be a woman. Since the dawn of 
recorded history, it is the men and not the women 
who have plunged into war. " 

"The older a woman becomes among the Sioux, the 
more powerful she is regarded to be. Her acquired 
wisdom is listened to and respected by all. " 

"Today we all face a great environmental crisis. We 
will have to re-assess our values and look at the 
natural way for wisdom. The Western world has an 
enormous defense budget; not millions but trillions of 
dollars are projected for weapons upon weapons. 
These resources will be needed for the renewal, and 
the beginning of the end of the poisoning of Mother 
Earth. In the light of global warming and the thin- 
ning of the ozone layer, it could well be an environ- 
mental holocaust. . . that can spell the end of life for 
us all. " 

"We two-leggeds can approach others of completely 
different cultures and creeds in peace and mutual 
support. We must shed our narrow-mindedness, we 
must stop exploiting each other. We don 't have to be 
alike to work together for the common world good. " 

"Communication and universal understanding 
coupled with generosity and sharing can do more for 
world peace and the ultimate rehabilitation of Mother 
Earth than all the weapons can do. It is time for 
communication and wisdom to replace fear, mistrust 
and narrow mindedness. " 

Eagle Man calls forth "Rainbow Tribe" to join this 
task. The traditional Native Americans know what 
needs to be done, but there are not enough of 
them to do the job; non-Indians, "Rainbow 
People", are to fulfill the prophecy of Black Elk in 
our time. 

Here is a warrior who has turned his gaze toward 
the task of healing ourselves and our world. The 
task is urgent. He has much to teach. To share a 
medicine wheel, pipe ceremony or sweat lodge 
with Eagle Man Ed McGaa is an inspirational 
experience. You can reach him at 1367 So. Stage- 
coach Trail, Afton, Minnesota 55001, 
(612)436-5143. HEH 


The following are available for $5 each: 

Vol. 1, No. 4 

Women in Science 

Vol. 2, No. 4 

Feminist Criticism 

Vol. 3, No. 2 

Year of the Child 

Vol. 3, No. 3 

Women Sailing 

Vol. 4, No. 1 

Energy in Living Systems 

Vol. 4, No. 2 

The Coming of Age 

Vol. 4, No. 4 

Women in the Wilderness 

Vol. 5, No. 2 

Third World Women 

Vol. 6, No. 2 

Women in Law 

Vol. 6, No. 3 

Men Changing 

Vol. 6, No. 4 

The Goddess 

Vol. 7, No. 1 


Vol. 7, No. 2 

Performing Arts 

Vol. 7, No. 4 

Women of China 

Vol. 8, No. 1 

Women as Healers 

Vol. 8, No. 2 

Belles Lettres 

Vol. 8, No. 3 

American Indian Women 

Vol. 8, No. 4 

New Voices (Susan Griffin) 

Vol. 9, No. 1 

Pentimento (Barbara Wallston) 

Vol. 9, No. 2 

Women of Israel: Jewish and 


Vol. 9, No. 3 

Women in Management 

Vol. 9, No. 4 


Vol.lO,No. 1 

Toward Planethood 

Vol.10, No. 2 

Soviet Women 

Vol.10, No. 3 

GAIA: The Living Planet 

Vol.10, No. 4 

Life Stories 

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